A fresh war of words has erupted between West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who expressed shock over his regular diatribes against the state government and urged him to cooperate with it to maintain peace rather than aggravating the situation.
The governor responded saying he was deeply pained by the "unwarranted tangetial approach" adopted by Banerjee and urged her to work in “tandem and together” in the public interest and "engage in soul searching".
Dhankhar had summoned state director general of police and the chief secretary to brief him on the ongoing violence due to the amended Citizenship Act. As they failed to turn up he asked Banerjee on Monday to personally update him on it.
Reacting to it, Banerjee on Monday evening wrote to Governor Dhankhar and expressed her shock over a person holding the gubernatorial post and criticising the state government on a regular basis.
"I am really sorry to see your frequent tweets and press briefings criticising the state government and also involving the senior officers of the state".
"You would no doubt appreciate that the prime focus of the state administration at present is to maintain peaceful situation as against what is going throughout the country," she wrote to Dhankhar.
"The constitutional obligation in my view is to support the state government machinery to maintain peace and harmony rather than aggravating the situation by provoking elements who may attempt to disturb the order and tranquility ... Please cooperate to maintain peace," Banerjee added.
Reacting to Chief Minister’s letter, Dhankhar in a letter said he was surprised at the “unwarranted tangential approach” adopted by Banerjee.
"Your reflections are far from fact situations and would urge you to engage in soul searching. I seek to remind you that I have all throughout taken steps in consonance with the Constitution and with respect to the present unfortunate crisis in which the State has landed. I have numerously appealed to the people and the Government to do their utmost to maintain peace, avoid violence and adhere to the Rule of Law," Dhankhar said in his reply.
Reminding Banerjee of the kind of “indignities” that have been heaped on him by the TMC ministers during his brief stints, he said his constitutional position has been “repeatedly compromised”.
“Even on the current critical situation in the State, I have not been briefed by the State Government at any stage and at any level whatsoever,” he said.
Indicating that he was not willing to let the past bitterness come in the way of dialogue, Dhankhar said he would like to work in “togetherness and in tandem”, in the larger public interest so that people of the West Bengal get respite from violence and peace is restored.
Dhankhar, who has been at loggerheads with the state government on number of issues since assuming charge in July this year, had earlier in the day criticised Banerjee for conducting a rally against Citizenship Amendment Act in the city and asked her to desist from “unconstitutional and inflammatory actions”.
Daring the Centre to dismiss her government, Banerjee on Monday hit the streets and vowed not to implement the citizenship law and the proposed NRC, which she said can only be enforced in West Bengal “over her dead body”.
Dhankhar had on Sunday said the advertisement in which Banerjee said that NRC and citizenship law will not be implemented in West Bengal is unconstitutional. The head of a government cannot use public money for such campaigns, he asserted.
His comments drew sharp reactions from the Trinamool Congress leadership which asked Dhankhar to stop “lecturing” Banerjee on her constitutional duties.
“He should stop lecturing others on what Mamata Banerjee has to do or not. He should not cross his constitutional brief. Mamata Banerjee has every right to hold a rally as she is not only a chief minister but is also the supremo of Trinamool Congress,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.
Violent protests over the amended Citizenship Act continued to rock parts of West Bengal for the third consecutive day. Several incidents of vandalism and arson were reported from different districts.