Dhankhar-TMC confrontation peaks in Bengal

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has warned the state’s newly-elected Trinamool Congress government to “not force me to use my constitutional powers”, sparking a fresh artillery exchange with the ruling party.

“He forgot his constitutional position by calling for a change in the state. His appeal was rejected, so old man is now obviously frustrated,” said Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, while reacting to the Governor’s warning.

Governor Dhankhar has been touring what he describes as ‘violence-hit areas’ since the Trinamool returned to power with a landslide.

His visit to Sitalkuchi in Northern Bengal provoked angry response from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who reminded Dhankhar of his constitutional obligations of working on the ‘aid and advice’ of the elected government.

The trip to Sitalkuchi, hit by poll-time violence where some voters were killed in firing by central forces, was followed by Dhankhar’s visit to makeshift camps in Assam where ‘victims of political violence’ in West Bengal were sheltered.

His comment that this was a ‘blot on governance’ in West Bengal provoked accusations that Dhankhar was ‘less a Governor and more a BJP functionary.’

While some TMC leaders see in Dhankhar’s tour to reinforce the BJP narrative of ‘Bengal’s law and order being worse than Kashmir’ to keep up pressure on the Mamata government, others saw a more sinister design — building a case for President’s rule.

“He is doing now what Dharma Vira did as Governor to bring down Bengal’s first non-Congress government in the late 1960s,” said analyst Sukhoranjan Dasgupta, author of books on West Bengal.

Dasgupta said the BJP is unable to accept the resounding defeat, evident from former Union minister Babul Supriyo’s comment that “Bengal has missed a huge chance by keeping BJP out of power.”

Supriyo resigned as Union Minister to contest the state polls from Tollygunge but lost to Trinamool minister Aroop Biswas miserably.