Dhankhar-TMC face-off mode: How Governor is battling it out with a firebrand Mamata in WB?
Kolkata, Jun 28: All eyes are on the beginning of the West Bengal assembly session today where Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is expected to deliver the opening address. With the Governor and the Chief Minister at loggerheads over the last few days, both ruling Trinamool and the BJP MLAs are going to be watching his speech closely.
It should be noted that the clash between Jagdeep Dhankhar and the State is not new.
The faceoff between Dhankhar and Banerjee worsened on Monday with the ruling party releasing two photographs to insinuate a link between the main accused in the fake Covid-19 vaccination racket and Dhankhar. The TMC alleged again that the latter was an accused in the Jain hawala case in the 1990s.
On June 28, chief minister Mamata had alleged at a press conference that Dhankhar was accused in the 1996 Jain hawala case and branded him "corrupt". accusing the governor of being "corrupt''.
Rejecting a Banerjee's allegation that he was a "corrupt" man who was charge-sheeted in the Jain Hawala Case, Dhankhar accused her of spreading "lies and misinformation".
Dhankhar described Banerjee's accusations against him as a "knee-jerk reaction" to his raising questions over the contents of the speech he is supposed to read out at the start of the upcoming assembly session.
"The allegations levelled by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee don't have an iota of truth. It is unfortunate that she is spreading misinformation and misinterpreting facts. It doesn't suit a chief minister to make such allegations," he told reporters.
"She should name the charge-sheet in which I was named. I was never named in any of the charge-sheets in the Jain Hawala Case," he said while referring to Banerjee as her "younger sister".
Jain Hawala Case was a huge politial and financial scandal in the 1990s in which money routed through hawala channels was claimed to have been given to top politicians across various parties.
Those named included L K Advani, V C Shukla, Sharad Yadav and many more. However, the charges against them didn''t stand legal scrutiny and the case fell through.
Dhankhar, who shares a strained relationship with the state government, said he was handed over in the afternoon the governor's speech to be read out in the assembly.
"Just 10 minutes before her press conference, I received a call from her. I put forward some questions regarding the governor's speech. She said she has nothing to do (with the speech) as the cabinet had passed it. It seems her comment at the press conference was a knee-jerk reaction," he said.
This triggered speculations because in February last year Dhankhar wanted to edit the speech prepared by the state for the budget session. The government rejected his suggestion. Dhankhar, a lawyer by profession, who has headed the Rajasthan High Court Bar Association, finally followed convention and read out the speech that was critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Thus, conflicts between the State and the Governor have a long history. Ever since Dhankar assumed office on July 30, 2019, Dhankar's run-ins with the Mamata Banerjee regime have been legendary. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee once called him "an agent" of the Centre.
The Governor has been critical of the law and order situation, particularly political violence in the state.
Even before the Assembly election, the TMC has been complaining that Dhankar is interfering too much in the governance of the State. He openly opposed the State government by raising constitutional rules.
An appeal was also made to the President seeking Dhankhar's removal on December 31, under sub-section 1 of section 156, citing the Governor's 'overactivity'.
The office of Governor in West Bengal has drawn criticism right from its inception. Dhankar's predecessors, Dharma Vira (1967), Shanti Swarup Dhawan (1970), A.P. Sharma (1983), T.V. Rajeswar (1989), Viren J. Shah (1999), Gopalkrishna Gandhi (2004) and M.K. Narayanan (2010) also had run-ins with the state Cabinet.