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Jagdeep Dhankhar, Mamata Banerjee lock horns in Assembly

While chief minister Mamata Banerjee characterised the gubernatorial post as being a “nominated” one, the Governor ticked off the state government for the position of the constitutional head of the state becoming “seriously compromised”.

SNS | Kolkata |

The State Assembly became the latest venue of the war of words between the Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, the constitutional head of the state and the state government, with Mr Dhankar and state chief minister Mamata Banerjee locking horns during the special session of the Assembly convened to mark Constitution Day. While chief minister Mamata Banerjee characterised the gubernatorial post as being a “nominated” one, the Governor ticked off the state government for the position of the constitutional head of the state becoming “seriously compromised”.

“The posts of President, Prime minister and chief ministers are elected posts but the Governor’s post is a nominated one. We had hardly any issue with any Governors earlier but why this now? I think the powers of Governor are being misused in the state.” Ms Banerjee told newspersons in the Assembly today responding to queries on whether the governor was misusing his powers.

The Governor on the other hand, while addressing the Assembly to mark the 70th Constitution Day, took potshots at the state government, saying the position of the constitutional head of the state was being “seriously compromised” and called upon the House to maintain the sanctity of the constitution. “I’m constrained to say this that the position of the constitutional head of the state has been compromised. I will continue to uphold the constitution no matter the obstacles that come my way. Our silence on issues may silence us forever. Things in the state must start looking up,” Mr Dhankhar told the Assembly.

Earlier, the Governor noticeably did not exchange any pleasantries with state government officials while entering the Assembly. Mr Dhankhar while addressing the Assembly took a subtle dig at the state government over the invitation sent to him to attend the session, saying tongue-in-cheek, “I was invited at a short notice. Still I accepted the invite though it was in conflict with the constitution day celebrations of Raj Bhawan.”

His comments on abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre in Jammu and Kashmir and the restoration of peace in the Union Territory also drew flak from the chief minister. ”Abrogation of Article 370 in J&K will restore peace in the state. This is a new era, we must thank the Prime Minister Modi. It is matter of great pride for us,” Mr Dhankar said. The chief minister while addressing the Assembly said; “The Governor addressed very well. But he perhaps forgot that it is Bengal not Kashmir. The Centre won’t be able to cow us in the state by initiating threat perception. At the end what matters is the power of the people.”

She also took a swipe at the Centre by raising the Maharashtra midnight coup issue and expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court for doing justice to the constitution. ”The Supreme Court’s latest order on Maharashtra is a great example of the people’s power, not an individual’s power,” she said, alluding to the Prime Minister’s invocation of his special power to revoke President’s Rule while hoisting Fadnavis as the chief minister.

“But finally he had to resign thanks to the Supreme court ruling,” said Ms Banerjee. Guv pays tribute to Patel, Ambedkar, SP Mookerjee: Zeroing in on the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, governor Jagedeep Dhankhar paid tributes to Vallabhbhai Patel, B R Ambedkar and Syama Prasad Mookherjee on the occasion of the 70th Constitution Day at Raj Bhavan today.

Addressing a select gathering of judges, senior armed force officers, politicians and officials flanked by portraits of Ambedkar and Mookherjee, the governor said that while Patel had nothing to do with the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union, Ambedkar did not incorporate the Article 370 in the Constitution while Mookherjee was one of the earliest opponents of including this Article into the Constitution.

The governor briefly dwelt on the delayed invitation from the state government to him to speak on the occasion of the Constitution Day. He said that he “failed to understand the reason behind the last minute invite”. Describing the Constitution as “living document” former Chief Justice of Calcutta and Bombay High Courts, Chittatosh Mukherjee, walked down memory lane, recalling seeing the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly, the “freedom at midnight” and other momentous events of the making of India from the visitors’ gallery.

The Constitution may have faltered on occasions, but that it has endured is a pointer to its efficacy, he said. A balance has to be struck between rights and restrictions, Justice Sanjib Banejee of Calcutta High Court said. The applicability of law has to be same for the governed and those who govern, he added. A book by senior advocate Samaraditya Pal was released by West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on the occasion.