Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is engaged in a power tussle with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, called it “shameful” and “undemocratic” as he drove to the state Assembly for a pre-announced visit, but found the gate meant for his entry locked.
Upon seeing the closed gate, he told the reporters gathered there, “My purpose is to see the historic building, visit the library. Assembly not being in session does not mean the Assembly has to be closed. The entire secretariat has to be open”.
As Gate No. 3 meant for the Governor and other VVIPS was closed, Dhankhar entered the Assembly premises through Gate No. 4, meant for media persons and officials.
“Assembly is not closed today. Assembly is not in session, that’s ok… These are trends in democracy we need to curb. Democracy doesn’t work in this fashion. These are not the qualities of democratic working,” the Governor told a large posse of media persons outside the closed Gate No. 3.
The Governor had reportedly informed Speaker Biman Banerjee on Wednesday he would be going to the assembly to look into its facilities and also visit the library.
Expressing his dismay over the gate being kept locked for “the Governor who under the constitution is at the number one position in the Legislature”, despite giving prior information about his planned visit, Dhankhar said: “This is a history which puts us to shame. This is most undemocratic.”
“We need to engage in soul searching and I would urge everyone, we need to make amends,” he said.
Dhankhar said he would write to Speaker Biman Banerjee that such turn of events should not have happened, as it was “not proper.. not in consonance with parliamentary practice… not befitting the office of the Governor. This is equally belittling the office of the Speaker.”
The Governor’s visit comes in the wake of Speaker’s unprecedented action on Tuesday adjourning the House for two days saying Bills scheduled to be placed before the members were yet to get the green signal from Dhankhar.
In a hard-hitting response soon after the Speaker’s announcement, the Raj Bhavan denied any delay and said the pending bills were on account of “lack of input or response” from the respective departments.
Giving the sequence of events in the run-up to his visit, Dhankhar said after he sent a message to the Speaker informing him of his visit, the special secretary, Raj Bhavan, on Wednesday received a call on his mobile from the mobile phone of the secretary of the Assembly that Banerjee was ‘very happy’ to learn that he would be coming.
“And the secretary conveyed that the honourable Speaker would like to have lunch with me. And there was also an invitation that my wife should also join for the lunch,” he said.
However, things changed after about one and a half hours.
After about one and a half hour, the secretary of the Assembly again called the special secretary Raj Bhavan, saying that this (lunch) will not happen. I was then at Calcutta University. And, something more was also told to him. That the Speaker has directed the Secretary and Special Secretary of the Assembly to be busy as well,” said Dhankhar.
Earlier in November, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had engaged in a war of words at the Assembly.
While Mamata 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”.
Dhankhar, who took oath as the Governor of West Bengal on July 30, had been at loggerheads with the state government over several issues — ranging from his seating arrangement at the Durga Puja carnival to security upgrade — since he rushed to Jadavpur University on September to “rescue” Union minister Babul Supriyo, who was being “heckled” by a section of students.
(With inputs from IANS)