KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar mounted a fresh assault on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over her monumental failure in tackling the COVID- 19 crisis that resulted in "incremental spread" of the pandemic.
He also accused her of "explicitly appeasing" the minority community, while referring to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi, which has often been blamed for the spurt in the noval coronavirus cases.
Dhankhar was responding to Banerjees missive on Thursday where she accused him of "repeatedly interfering" in the functioning of her government and reminded him she is the elected chief minister of a proud state and he a nominated governor.
Dhankhar said the chief minister's "outburst" is an alibi strategy to cover up "monumental failures" in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Urging the TMC supremo "to shun politics and confrontational approach", Dhankhar said her conduct is only compounding the miseries of the people.
"Your communication is part of the alibi strategy that emanates from a script that seeks to cover up monumental failures in these challenging times by a series of blunders," the governor said in his second letter to Banerjee after her Thursday letter set off acrimonious exchanges between the two constitutional functionaries.
"Your appeasement of the minority community was so explicit and awkward on the Nizamuddin Markaz incident. This is most unfortunate and cannot be appreciated," he said, referring to an event where Banerjee was asked to comment on the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital.
Banerjee had then reportedly told the journalist not to ask "communal questions".
Referring to the controversy over actual COVID figures in the state, he said the approach in dealing with the crisis has shamed the state nationally and globally.
There awaits a catastrophe, if the health care system is persistently ignored, if the COVID cases increasingly coming to hospitals are consistently denied and suppressed, if the quarantine facilities remain for namesake, if tests are not allowed honestly, if the health workers are treated inhumanly, if the already politicised PDS is thrown open for wild loot by unscrupulous people," he wrote.
He asked Banerjee to disable her political antenna, shun confrontationist approach and be in action mode.
In the letter replete with barbs, Dhankhar said the civil administration and police have been emasculated as a consequence of their politicisation and that the human rights of those who do not belong to the ruling party are under virtual suspension.
Taking a swipe at Banerjee for visiting various parts of the city and advising people to stay indoors, he said, real-time action on the part of the state government is needed and not theatrics or politicking.
Please ask those who may pick courage to show the mirror- how sagacious is it for CM to take mike and broom day after day in this grim situation, he wrote.
Dhankhar said Banerjee is engaging in her favourite pastime of being in an accusatory mode but the street fighter approach is counterproductive and has the potential to spell disaster for the people.
He also referred to the unwholesome scenario the central teams that arrived in the state to take stock of the COVID-19 situation faced, and added your cover up mechanism will lead to very painful consequences.
The governor slammed the governments decision to ban mobile phones inside isolation wards, saying Time to reveal the real picture so that our fight against the coronavirus may be enhanced and sharpened.
The face-off between the West Bengal government and Raj Bhavan had escalated on Thursday, with Banerjee accusing Dhankhar of repeatedly interfering in the functioning of the state administration, and the latter asserting a state cannot be governed as a personal fiefdom.
At daggers drawn for the last several months, the two went for each others jugular with Banerjee shooting off a letter to Dhankhar in the backdrop of his recent criticism of the government over the way the state was tackling the COVID- 19 pandemic.