POLITICS

While Bengal Boils, Its Governor And Chief Minister Are Trading Insults

CM-Guv clashes aren't new.

06/07/2017 11:38 AM IST | Updated 06/07/2017 11:39 AM IST
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Mamata Banerjee (L) and West Bengal Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi during her swearing-in ceremony in Kolkata, India.

The verbal feud between Bengal Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in the aftermath of communal clashes in North 24 Parganas, escalated further on Wednesday after the Raj Bhavan sent out a press statement that accused Mamata of "emotionally blackmailing the people of Bengal."

Tripathi wrote a separate letter to President Pranab Mukherjee apprising him of his conversation with the CM, who on Wednesday accused the Governor of threatening her on phone after violence broke out in Basirhat over a Facebook post by a Class X student that purportedly insulted Islam.

Tripathi did not hold back. He slammed the "lapses of the state government" in mishandling law and order and hit back at Education Minister Partha Chatterjee for saying that he had "crossed his constitutional limits by insulting Banerjee" and that he was running a BJP office from the Raj Bhavan.

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Vehicles torched in violence in Baduria after protests over an objectionable social media post on July 5, 2017 in North 24 Parganas, India.

"The Governor is fully aware of his constitutional obligations and limitations and needs no lesson from anyone on this count," the statement issued from Raj Bhawan, that the Indian Express carried in parts, said.

Mamata yesterday told the press that she was close to resigning from her post after an insulting and "threatening" phone call from the Governor.

"I have told the Hon'ble governor that 'you cannot talk to me like this'. The way the governor is speaking, it seems that the BJP block president is speaking.... After this insult, I had myself thought that I would resign. I have never been insulted in this way in my whole life. I'm really sorry if I have hurt anybody because of what I said. I apologise for that. But my conscience was extremely hurt today. I have not sat on this chair just for the sake of it. I work hard to accomplish whatever I can," Telegraph quoted her as saying.

Tripathi, in response, hit back: "The Governor further reiterates that he did not utter a single word to insult or threaten the Chief Minister. Her allegation is baseless and meant only to emotionally blackmail the people of West Bengal."

"I have told the Hon'ble governor that 'you cannot talk to me like this'. The way the governor is speaking, it seems that the BJP block president is speaking.... After this insult, I had myself thought that I would resign."

PTI reported that in his letter to the President, the Governor "mentioned every minute details of why he had called up the chief minister and what exactly he had spoken to her during the phone call."

Tripathi's letter also mentioned that he had never said anything to Banerjee which could have "humiliated" or "insulted" or "threatened" her. He had suggested that Mamata seek Central forces to curb violence.

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Vehicles torched in violence in Baduria after protests over an objectionable social media post on July 5, 2017 in North 24 Parganas, India.

Not The First Time Either

This is not the first time that a serving chief minister has got into an active feud with the Governor. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's famous run-in with Najeeb Jung over the Lt Governor's discretionary powers went on for months and got escalated to the courts. The Aam Aadmi Party, led by Kejriwal, has been campaigning for full statehood. The Delhi High Court ruled in 2016 that the national capital "continues to be a Union Territory" under the administrative control of the Lt Governor, a ruling the AAP contested in the Supreme Court.

Chief Minister V Narayanasamy's government in Puducherry has repeatedly accused Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi of overreach ever since her appointment to the post. The Congress and the DMK have accused her of a "dictatorial" style of governance and criticising ministers on social media. Bedi had threatened to quit and told PTI: "The chief minister desired a lieutenant-governor who is a mere endorser and a person who may let wrongs happen even when people are suffering injustice."

On Tuesday, she officiated the swearing in of BJP politicians, nominated by the Centre, as members of the Legislative Assembly, leading to outrage from the ruling party.

In 2015 Assam's then chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asked for Governor PB Acharya of "forgetting that he is a Governor" after Acharya allegedly said Muslims in India were free to go to Pakistan if they felt persecuted.

"He is still behaving like an RSS pracharak," Gogoi scathingly said. Acharya later clarified that he had been misquoted by the media and all he had said was: "Hindus, if persecuted in other countries, had nowhere else to go but India."

In 2013, then chief minister Narendra Modi was locked into a battle of will with Governor Kamala Beniwal over a host of issues, including the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013. Beniwal, a Congress politician, said the bill was "detrimental to the interest of public welfare" and gave absolute powers to the Chief Minister. Beniwal was eventually sacked as Governor of Mizoram and accused of acquiring plots of land from the government illegally.

Here is a Hindu list of all the times state governments clashed with Governors.

Clamour For President's Rule Grows

In Bengal, the BJP demanded that the Centre impose President's rule and send central observers to assess "worsening law and order", reported PTI.

"We demand that the Centre immediately intervene and impose President's rule in the state. The Centre should send a team of central observers to assess the worsening law and order situation in the state," President of BJP's Bengal unit Dilip Ghosh said.

"The incident at Baduria in North 24-Parganas district is a clear example of appeasement politics. The houses and other property of Hindus were burnt and looted but the police was standing as a mute spectator. It was when the Governor intervened that central forces were summoned. Just for the sake of vote bank politics, the riots were allowed to take place," he said.

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Vehicles torched in violence in Baduria after protests over an objectionable social media post on July 5, 2017 in North 24 Parganas, India.

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