The West Bengal government on Tuesday evening hit out at governor Jagdeep Dhankhar after he made public a letter that he had written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleging political violence on opposition party workers.
Around 4.30 on Tuesday, Dhankhar shared on Twitter his letter to the chief minister dated the same day, alleging that he was constrained to convey to the chief minister that “continued silence & inaction over post poll violence, violation of human rights & dignity of women, destruction of property, perpetuation of miseries on political opponents- worst since independence, ill augurs for democracy.”
The two-page letter, Dhankhar wrote, “In spite of your attention having been drawn to the enormity of situation, huge exodus of people in search of cover for life and destruction of property worth crores, there has been only stunning silence at your end and you did not deem it necessary to even deliberate this grave human tragedy in any of the Cabinet meetings so far. Your studies silence, coupled with absence of any steps to engage in rehabilitation and compensation to alleviate the unimaginable suffering of the people, force an inevitable conclusion that all this is state driven.”
The state government’s response came four hours later. In a series of five tweets, the state home department said that the communication format was “violative of all established norms” because it been written to chief minister and released to public through tweets simultaneously, “which disrupts sanctity of such communications.”
“Government of West Bengal has observed with dismay and distress that the Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal has suddenly made public, a letter of his to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, with contents that are not consistent with real facts. The unusual step of going public in this manner abruptly and unilaterally has shocked the Government of West Bengal all the more because the contents are fabricated,” the home department said.
The statement said that while the post-poll violence in the state was “somewhat unabated when the Election Commission of India was in charge of the law and order machinery”, after the swearing in, the state cabinet had “reigned in the situation, restored normalcy and established full command over anti-law elements.”
“State police has been firmly directed to bring to book all anti-socials and the Government remains committed to maintain the basic fabric of society and to uphold law and order,” said the home department.
The governor’s letter and tweet came a day after leader of the opposition, the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, met the governor at Raj Bhavan leading a delegation of 51 party MLAs. Dhankhar met and discussed with them at an open space inside the Raj Bhavan compound and later addressed the media with Adhikari standing next to him. This, too, was seen as unprecedented for a governor.
Dhankhar, however, has long earned the reputation of playing roles different from that of his predecessor – especially in the way he routinely targets the Mamata Banerjee government.
Adhikari alleged on Monday that as many as 17,000 party supporters and workers were forced to stay away from their homes due to political terror unleashed by the ruling party, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC).
While speaking of the law and order situation in his letter to Banerjee, the governor even criticised her role in leading a protest against the arrest of state ministers by the CBI in May.
“The spectre of lawlessness can be seen from the sordid saga of May 17, when totally unmindful of your oath to act as per Constitution and law, you spent six hours at CBI office at Nizam Palace seeking release of the arrested persons and your intimidatory stance widely reported in the media was ‘release them or arrest me’. While being at Nizam palace, you president over a Cabinet Meeting. The sequence of event that happened on 17 May, 2021 in Kolkata has no parallel in the annals of democracy,” Dhankhar wrote in the letter.
The arrested ministers were later granted bail by the Calcutta high court. The CBI’s plea seeking removal of the Narada case’ hearing outside West Bengal is still being heard by a high court division bench.
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