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Officials absent, Bengal guv slams 'censorship'

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The Times Of India
23rd October, 2019 06:00 IST

Dhamakhali (North 24 Parganas): West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has expressed displeasure over the kind of “censorship” that debars senior state officials from meeting the head of the state without permission from the state government.

“I find it absolutely unconstitutional. Is it an appropriate step to be taken when the governor wants to meet someone, there has to be a censorship, permission, approval of the state? I am not subordinate to the state government,” the governor said at Dhamakhali in North 24 Parganas during his visit to the Sunderbans on Tuesday.

Like in Siliguri, all senior state officials and, this time, even public representatives — namely Basirhat MP Nusrat Jahan and Sandeshkhali MLA Sukumar Mahata — gave the governor’s meeting the miss.

Without naming the state government, Dhankhar said: “Sorry to say, but it seems that they are frustrated. It appears to me that they feel it is beneath their dignity to meet me. Despite their refusal to meet me, I will continue my tour in the districts.”

Trinamool senior and state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee refused to respond. “I will not respond to what the governor is doing. The chief minister or the chief secretary may respond if necessary. There is an elected government in the state and it is doing its job,” Chatterjee said.

If the absence of state officials during the governor’s visit to the districts for a second time reflected the attitude of the state government towards the governor’s role, Dhankhar defined the role himself. “The governor is required to go all over the state, meet its people, know the situation and catalyse the situation either with the state government or the central government,” he said.

The governor took exception to the North 24 Parganas’ DM’s letter in response to the communication from Raj Bhavan on October 17 specifying the officials and public representatives the governor wanted to meet during his visit. “The DM’s letter states that action can be taken after the receipt of permission from the state government. The letter also states that all senior state officials will be busy attending the CM’s administrative meeting in north Bengal from October 21 to 23. I find it odd. The government doesn’t go on a holiday,” Dhankhar said.

Dhankhar, who prefers to call him a “copy book governor”, has been termed “hyperactive” by TMC, which believes that the governor is playing a “partisan role.” Months within taking oath, Dhankhar created a precedent by reaching out to Jadavpur University to the rescue of junior Union minister Babul Supriyo caught in a campus ruckus but didn’t say a word on the BJP vandalism at JU the same day.

Not only that, Trinamool also didn’t like the governor paying a visit to BJP MP from Bhatpara Arjun Singh and speaking out over the triple murders in Murshidabad. Political observers maintain that Dhankhar is trying to make a point by continuing with his district visits.

While sections in Trinamool fear that the governor is trying to develop a second power centre in the state, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: “It is unfortunate that senior state officials can’t meet head of the state without the state government’s permission. It goes against the Constitution. But this is what Bengal is under Mamata Banerjee.”

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