West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday said he is “hurt” as no senior state government representative attended the unveiling of a portrait of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 95th birth anniversary at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata.

The idea to unveil a three-dimensional portrait of the late prime minister was conceived on November 27 and an invitation letter for the programme was sent to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on that day, he told reporters.

“The CM is the executive head and I have not said she has to unveil (the portrait). She may have many other engagements and I have the highest respects for her. My grievance is not that she could not come, but lack of representation by the government and bureaucracy has hurt me,” the governor said.

Asserting that there must be respect for people who hold constitutional positions, Dhankhar, who has had several face-offs with the TMC government, said, “Unfortunately there is a very disturbing trend …There seems to be no representation from the state …This should not happen to a person who served the country with such distinction.”

Vajpayee, he said, was known for his eloquence and had no enemies in the political parties.

The governor said he could have contacted “anyone in the country to unveil the portrait of Vajpayeeji and you (media) know it more than I do that anyone will be happy and gratified to do this as it will be an honour. I thought the Hon’ble CM was eminently most suitable to do the act at the Raj Bhavan”.

Dhankhar said West Bengal speaker and the chief secretary were also invited but none from the state government’s side turned up.

“As the constitutional head, I cannot sit tight if someone is not responding. I would continue to work in the direction in humility, discharge my duty and try to connect with her,” he said.

Present-day politicians should know about Vajpayee’s qualities, he asserted.

“You can’t disagree with a person by looking at him as an enemy. You need not agree on every point of view but that does not make you enemies. Disagree with grace,” he said without taking anyone names.

On Tuesday, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was gheraoed by students protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University.

Dhankhar was shown black flags and greeted with ‘go back’ slogans at Jadavpur University by a large section of students and university staff after he went to the campus for the annual convocation ceremony.

After being blocked by the protesters for more than one and a half hours, the Governor’s convoy finally made a retreat. Before leaving the campus, a visibly miffed Governor hit out at the Jadavpur University officials and demanded the immediate suspension of the 64th convocation programme and resignation of the vice-chancellor Suranjan Das.

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 support for the Citizenship Act to seating arrangement at a 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 PTI inputs)