Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Assam, Mamata Banerjee and Himanta Biswa Sarma, today paid a courtesy call on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling.
Mr Dhankhar and Miss Banerjee are in Darjeeling for the swearing-in of newly-elected sabhasads of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). While the GTA members were sworn in yesterday amid a function attended by Miss Banerjee, the governor is scheduled to administer the oath of office to the chief executive, chairperson and vice-chairperson of the GTA tomorrow, following the first meeting of the new GTA Sabha.
“It was purely a courtesy tea meeting. We drank tea and ate biscuits,” Miss Banerjee told reporters, as she left Raj Bhawan after the three-hour-long meeting.
“We did not hold political discussions,” she added, while also stating that they also did not discuss the presidential election.
Mr Sarma had, meanwhile, reached Raj Bhawan to meet the governor.
“It was good meeting Himanta. He had helped me when I had gone to the Kamakhya temple (in Assam). Our relationship must continue as there are several Assamese in West Bengal and many Bengalis in Assam. The two state governments must keep in touch with each other, so that we can communicate whenever any need arises,” Miss Banerjee said.
The meeting between Miss Banerjee and Mr Dhankhar, who were earlier engaged in a long face-off over several issues, and whose relations had soured in the recent past, however, left many in the Hills and even the plains surprised. Only during the day, as the governor landed at the Bagdogra Airport today, he lashed out at what he called were “extreme appeasement” and “serious problems of governance the state is facing at present,” and appealed to the civil society and intelligentsia to “break their silence” and speak about such problems.
“I appeal to the civil society and intelligentsia to speak about the serious problems of governance. Silence of the civil society and intelligentsia is not healthy for democracy,” Mr Dhankhar told reporters at the airport before he left for Darjeeling.
“I call upon them to break the silence and speak freely. We are witnessing extreme appeasement that will destroy our democracy, and it will generate a seriously imbalanced society and it is undemocratic,” he said.
Mr Dhankhar also talked about “communalized patronage” and said it was high time all focused on that.
“If they continue to remain silent, silence will destroy our democracy and future generations will never ever pardon,” he added.