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TMC minister stokes debate on Governor role

The Raj Bhavan in 2020, sought additional funds of Rs 53.5 lakh to meet everyday expenses which the state government refused, on account of austerity measures due to the Covid pandemic.

SNS | Kolkata |

After a series of friction between the West Bengal government and the former governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, a senior state cabinet minister, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay today stoked controversy as he opined that the post of governor ought to be abolished since the state is incurring unnecessary expenses in maintaining it.

The senior minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet today said that the post of governor is not necessary and reasoned that the state is incurring unnecessary expenses in having to maintain the ceremonial post. The minister told the press that the opinion is solely his own and may not reflect the party’s opinion. He alleged that both the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchhi Commission had suggested the same.

He said, “The role of a governor is to uphold the constitutional values and ensure the affairs of a state are carried out in adherence to the constitution. This role can also be fulfilled by the Chief Justice of the high court since that is more appropriate because after all the role of a governor is to ensure that no law is violated.”

It is to be recalled that expenses surrounding Raj Bhavan made headlines in 2020 when Jagdeep Dhankhar alleged that the state government is pulling the purse strings for Raj Bhavan so tight that he may not be able to offer even tea and biscuits to any visitors. The state government had turned down a request from Raj Bhavan to increase budgetary allocation. The Raj Bhavan in 2020, sought additional funds of Rs 53.5 lakh to meet everyday expenses which the state government refused, on account of austerity measures due to the Covid pandemic. The state finance department had slashed about 50 per cent of the budget allocated to Raj Bhavan in the financial year 2020-2021.

The comment by Mr Chattopadhyay drew flak from the opposition parties. The BJP spokesperson, Samik Bhattacharya called him a “Trinamul Marxist”, reasoning that such an opinion has been long held by the Communist Party in the past but in this case, the opinion is not of the TMC but an individual party member.

The CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, said, “For all these years, the Left has repeatedly questioned the role of governor. Why is it necessary? Today, the TMC is only echoing our demands. The TMC, for all these years, had insisted on the position of a governor, even expecting good relations with the party and presence in party events. Now, it is saying there is no need for the post. Trinamul has no specific stand and is like a weather vane.”