In a move, which may invoke sharp reaction from the BJP, the West Bengal government has refused permission to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar for a chopper to travel to Farakka in Murshidabad district, making it the second such denial by the state government in one week.
Dhankhar is scheduled to travel to Farakka on Friday morning to attend a programme. The request for the chopper was made well in advance but there was no response from the administration, a Raj Bhavan source said.
Earlier this week, the governor had requested for a helicopter to travel to Shantipur in Nadia district to attend a festival, which was also turned down by the West Bengal government.
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), however, questioned the need for a helicopter for the governor's travel and termed it "absurd" and "misuse of public money".
The source said Dhankhar will be undertaking a 600-km journey by road to Murshidabad district to participate in the event, where he is invited as the chief guest. Later, the press secretary to the Governor said Dhankhar will leave by road at 6 am to attend the function at Domkal Girls’ College.
"He will be inaugurating newly constructed college building. The invitation for that was extended by former Minister and present legislator Shri Anisur Rahman," it stated.
"There was a request made to the State Goverment to provide helicopter for this visit, which involves a travel of about 500 kms either way. However, the response from the State Goverment has been that the helicopter would not be available and in that situation, the Governor will be visiting the place by road," it added.
When contacted, a senior official of the state government said Dhankhar's request could not be fulfilled because of "administrative obligations". Senior state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said the governor should first clarify why he needs a chopper, as "misuse of public money cannot be tolerated".
"Our chief minister herself travels long distances by car. No other previous governors had ever requested for a chopper. His demands are as absurd as his statements," a senior TMC leader said.
The TMC district leadership of Murshidabad has decided to boycott the governor's programme, accusing him of being biased against the state government.