As Governor of Tripura, Tathagata Roy is the titular head of an Indian state, holding a position at the state-level that is comparable to the president at the Centre. But a run through of the governor's tweets since he assumed office in the summer of 2015 is completely at odds with qualities such as dignity of office, responsibility, and humility that are associated with high office.
Roy, a veteran leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party from West Bengal, was sworn in as Governor of Tripura as per the provisions of Articles 153 and 154 of the Constitution. The same Constitution describes India as a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." A few months into his governorship, Roy declared, "Whatever gave you the notion I am secular? I am a Hindu. My state, India, however is secular since 1976."
Even those who owe their current position in the government to the politics of Hindutva, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, had to dial down their rhetoric in order to maintain the dignity of their high offices. However, Roy seems to have no such qualms.
On Saturday, Roy rattled the cage once again when he tweeted out, "Syama Prasad Mookerjee wrote in his diary on 10/1/1946: 'The Hindu-Muslim problem won't b solved without a Civil War.' So much like Lincoln!"
Roy, a lawyer, engineer and professor, looks upon himself as an educator, and his tweets are meant to enlighten people. But what one can gather from the tweet above eludes us. Since he assumed office two years ago, Roy has tweeted out communally insensitive messages at regular intervals.
Unsurprisingly, even before he became governor, Roy had a reputation for communal rhetoric. "Overwhelming Hindu majority is ESSENTIAL to maintain a multi-religious society & secular state. But West Bengal is slipping," he tweeted in December 2014.
Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Ghazipur,Bangladesh. Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Mallikpur,W Bengal,India. What awaits us Bengali Hindus?— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) April 23, 2015
One wonders if that gave the Modi government a pause before appointing Roy to a constitutional position. And what of the ruling Communist Party of India (M) in Tripura, which had vowed not to brook any nonsense. "We will take political recourse if the Governor does not function within his constitutional propriety," the CPI (M) said after Roy was sworn in.
In August 2015, Roy described those who had attended Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon's last rites as "potential terrorists." Despite the furore over his remarks, the honourable governor stuck to what he had said.
Intelligence shd keep a tab on all (expt relatives & close friends) who assembled bfr Yakub Memon's corpse. Many are potential terrorists— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) July 31, 2015
The justification that he gave for his tweet can only be described as ironic. "This has nothing to do with my BJP background. At the moment, I am a governor and have no party affiliation. But even as a governor I am definitely concerned about security," he said.
In November 2015, Roy told The Economic Times, "People can have beef in the open, even though I personally consider it gross. People have the right to eat what they want but the scales would be even when Muslims come out and have pork in the open. And that day, we can really call it war against intolerance."
After the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016, Roy said that the bodies of the slain terrorists should be wrapped in pigskin. The governor tweeted, "I seriously suggest Russian treatment to terrorists' carcasses. Wrap them in pigskin, bury them face down in pig excreta." The utter lack of sensitivity is perhaps the only thing more bizarre than the governor's tweets.
I seriously suggest Russian treatment to terrorists' carcasses. Wrap them in pigskin,bury them face down in pig excreta.
In the wake of the deadly attack in Bangladesh in July 2016, he tweeted, "Notwithstanding bleats abt not spreading hate, I'm still waiting for messages denouncing terrorism fm Indian Muslim clerics & institutions."
Notwithstanding bleats abt not spreading hate,I'm still waiting for messages denouncing terrorism fm Indian Muslim clerics & institutions— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) July 5, 2016
Under no circumstances should Bangladeshi Radical Islamists be allowed to find sanctuary in West Bengal https://t.co/Lxa6dtRVjU— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) July 2, 2016
Since Roy seems blissfully unaware of maintaining the dignity of the office he currently holds when he is tweeting, perhaps it is time for some of his fellow party-men to remind him that he should keep his venom in check at least for the duration that he is the governor of a state.
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