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‘Look at yourself first’: Bengal governor’s retort to Trinamool cries of federal overreach

Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee had accused Keshari Nath Tripathi of ‘tarnishing’ his constitutional position by writing to a senior official in Malda district, bypassing the state government in the process.

kolkata Updated: Feb 08, 2018 18:10 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Trinamool Congress,Keshari Nath Tripathi,Bengal governor
Trinamool MP Derek O’ Brien moved an adjournment motion in the Rajya Sabha to highlight how Tripathi allegedly violated the federal structure.(PTI File)

“Look at yourself in the mirror first...”

This was the advice Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi proffered to state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee on Thursday morning, a day after the Trinamool leader charged him with overstepping his jurisdiction.

Chatterjee had accused Tripathi on the state assembly floor of “tarnishing” his constitutional position by writing to a senior official in Malda district, bypassing the state government in the process. “My message to the minister is this: You have made many strong statements. Now, please stop targeting the governor’s office,” Tripathi told television reporters at Diamond Harbour, where he had come to attend a university convocation.

The governor also asked Chatterjee to introspect before pointing fingers at him. “Look at yourself in the mirror first to check if there’s any dirt on your face,” he said.

The advice, however, was not well-received by the Trinamool government. “He is speaking of dirt on our faces. But I want to know what he thinks of those who are trying to deprive the people of their democratic rights, even dictating them on what to eat. Who will wipe their faces?” urban development minister Firhad Hakim told mediapersons on the state assembly premises.

Over the last two days, Parliament has witnessed protests by party MPs against the governor’s alleged attempts to bypass the state government in administrative matters. Trinamool parliamentarian Derek O’ Brien even moved an adjournment motion in the Rajya Sabha to highlight how Tripathi allegedly violated the federal structure by directly asking the Malda divisional commissioner to call a meeting of district-level officials and police to review the working of state and central development schemes.

A 30-member delegation of Trinamool Congress also met Union home minister Rajnath Singh earlier on Thursday to protest against Tripathi’s “misconduct”, O’Brien said.

This is not the first time Tripathi, a veteran BJP leader, has had a run-in with the West Bengal government. In July 2017, he allegedly “threatened” chief minister Mamata Banerjee during a telephonic conversation on the communal clashes in Basirhat, North 24 Parganas district.

Banerjee alleged that Tripathi spoke to her like a “BJP block president”, not a state governor.

The governor’s office responded the following day by issuing a press statement asking the chief minister and her cabinet to work towards ensuring law and order in the state instead of targeting Tripathi.

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 18:09 IST