Kolkata, April 23 (IANS) West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday engaged in a letter war as she accused him of repeatedly interfering in the administration of the ministries, and crossing the limits of constitutional dharma and elementary norms of constitutional behaviour.
Dhankhar, in his reply, described Banerjee’s missive as “Outrageously factually wrong and constitutionally infirm”.
In her hard-hitting seven-page letter, Banerjee reminded Dhankhar that she was an “elected” Chief Minister and he a “nominated governor” and charged him with ignoring advice of her council of ministers.
“You appear to have forgotten that I am an elected Chief Minister of a proud Indian state. You also seem to have forgotten that you are a nominated Governor. You may continue to ignore all advice and inputs given by me and my council of ministers (as you appear to have taken upon yourself to do since the day of your appointment). But at least you should not ignore the wise words of Babasaheb Ambedkar,” she said.
Quoting Ambedkar, she said: “Powers of the governor are so limited that very few would come forward to stand for election.”
Banerjee asked Dhankhar to judge for himself whether his dirct attacks on her, the council of ministers and officers, “your tone, tenor and language, which, in the mildest words of extreme moderation, deserve to be characterised as unparliamentary”.
She said Dhankhar’s holding of press conferences against the state government, his “repeated and constant interference in the administration of my ministries and departments, make it clear as to who has flagrantly transgressed constitutional dharma and even basic norms of decency between constitutional functionaries”.
Banerjee, in the letter, gave verbatim a communication she had sent to the Governor, and an SMS as also a letter Dhankhar had written to her.
“Your expostulation leaves me with no option but to release these letters in the public domain to leave it to the people of this state and of this nation to judge for themselves as to who has done what and who is in breach of the elementary norms of constitutional behaviour,” she said.
Responding, Dhankhar alleged that Banerjee’s constant refrain of Governor being “nominated” is “lamentable” and can be ascribed only to “elementary ignorance” of the Constitution.
“I need to indicate firmly that there has been total failure at your end all through as regards compliance of constitutional prescriptions qua the constitutional head,” he said charging Banerjee with having “black holed” all his communications thereby negating Articles 166 and 167 of the constitution.
“You will gather from this that there has been an outrageous, flagrant violation of constitutional prescriptions and rules of business at your end and that of your officials,” he said.
Refering to Banerjee’s brief letter to him on April 21, Dhankhar said: “You have indicated that interaction with me cannot take place as requested by me in my communication because ‘the entire state machinery is now engaged’ to fight against Covid 19 pandemic.”
Calling Banerjee’s approach “outrageous”, he said it was a “misleading” view of the Indian constitution.
“If I go by your response, I should be in sleep mode, totally non-fucntional, confined to the Raj Bhavan and await the end of Covid 19 pandemic, so that you may spare time for interaction with the constitutional head,” he said, adding it goes against the “essence, letter and spirit of the constitution”.
On Banerjee’s allegation that he has ignored all advice and inputs given by her and her council of ministers, Dhankhar said: “I never had any benefit of any advice or input to me either by you or your ministers.”
He also alleged that the state ministers have been like “loose cannons” using “demeaning” language for the Governor.
Dhankhar threatened to make on Friday full disclosure of details and documentation “that will startle all” about Banerjee’s stance.
“I never wanted to take recourse to thisA but in view of your factually untenable stand and your going public, this has become a compulsive need,” he added.