West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar on Thursday met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and then did something seldom done. He called a press meet and launched an attack on the Mamata Banerjee government, listing frequently voiced complaints. He said he was worried about the holding of free, fair and fearless elections in the state that are due about six months from now.
Mr Dhankar claimed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was running a police state, that sections of the bureaucracy were acting as political workers and foot soldiers and political violence was a daily affair.
“Relentless political vendetta of unimaginable dimensions with brutal targeted killings,” he said.
But these complaints Mr Dhankar has voiced earlier, through tweets and at press meets in Kolkata. On Thursday, for the first time, he raised the issue of elections.
“People deserve democracy. I am committed to ensure free, fair and fearless voting. That is the minimum expectation people have,” he said.
“You are governing only through police apparatus and that is not permitted. A police station shall not be allowed to be a campaign office. This is the minimum I can do to vindicate the oath I have taken as governor,” Mr Dhankar said.
“I am not a stake holder in politics. It is not my concern who gets elected. It is my concern how election takes place. It is my concern how governance takes place. If the governance is not in accordance with rule of law, then the governor is worried,” he added.
The Trinamool Congress dismissed the governor’s outburst in Delhi as false, mischievous and politically motivated.
“He is complaining the police are politicized. What about him? He says he is worried about Bengal. We are worried about him. He is diminishing his own office,” Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee said.
TMC MP Sougata Roy tweeted, “The governor’s outburst is the outburst of a frustrated man. He is trying to curry favour with the ruling party at the Centre so that after his governorship is over, he gets a political position. Nobody takes this governor seriously”.
Another Trinamool MP, Kalyan Banerjee, called a “loudspeaker of BJP”.
Even Trinamool’s rivals, the Congress and Left, condemned the governor for airing his grievances at a press meet after meeting the home minister. “He may have a point in his complaints. But he can’t say such things publicly. That is our role,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, Congress MP.
Sujan Chakraborty, CPM MLA, said: “There is no law and order in the state, no denying the CM runs the state through police and IPAC. But there must be laxman rekhas (limits) for the governor. He cannot do press conferences and abuse the state just for publicity and political motives”.
The BJP defended the Governor’s comments. “He said nothing wrong. Law-and-order has collapsed in the state, political violence is going on, police are controlling everything. He said just that,” said Sayantan Bose, BJP leader.
Mamata Banerjee has not reacted to the governor’s outburst at all. She put out two tweets today. One was to condole the death of deputy speaker Sukumar Hansda. The other was to announce that the Kolkata International Film Festival was being rescheduled from November to January.