KOLKATA: The shadow of recent run-ins between the West Bengal governor and the Mamata Banerjee government fell on the Republic Day programme here, when Jagdeep Dhankhar and the chief minister came face to face at the venue.
Though Banerjee greeted Dhankhar when the latter approached her after reaching the venue, the natural warmth of the Trinamool Congress supremo was clearly missing.
Banerjee was seen not getting up from her chair until the governor came close to her.
It was seen that at one point of time the CM turned her face away when Dhankhar was seen saying something to her.
At the photo session, Banerjee kept a distance from the governor and stood close to state assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee with whom Dhankhar had a spat on the previous day.
While speaking to the media after paying floral tributes at the statue of B R Ambedkar on the Assembly premises on National Voters Day, Dhankhar not only castigated the speaker and the chief minister but also described the political condition in West Bengal as "horrible and frightening" He had come down heavily on the Speaker, accusing him of violating constitutional norms and not providing information sought by him, including details of the assembly resolution on the extension of BSF's area of operation.
Reacting to Dhankhar's accusations, the Speaker had said it was "extremely discourteous" of the governor to have made such remarks.
Dhankhar has had several run-ins with the West Bengal government over various issues including appointment of vice chancellors of state universities and asking the chief secretary and police chiefs to appear before him.
Later, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP alleged that the chief minister did not maintain protocol by not receiving the governor at the Republic Day event.
"Arrogance of @MamataOfficial vs Humility of @jdhankhar1 at Republic Day function. A new low in observance of protocol and propriety by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee," Adhikari tweeted.
He asked: "Is it because there are no answers to the tough questions asked by Hon'ble Governor?" Reacting to Adhikari's allegation, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh claimed that the BJP leader is a frustrated person as he had left the Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP expecting many things and to escape from the raids by central agencies.
"But he can see that the party is now disintegrating quickly (in the state)," Ghosh said.
In a deepening of the spat between Governor Jagdeep Dhankar and the TMC-led state government, West Bengal assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee said on Wednesday he has requested for footage of the governor's press meet held in the assembly premises a day before where he had attacked the state government and accused the speaker of transgressing constitutional norms, before deciding on his future course of action.
Banerjee told reporters on the sidelines of a Republic Day function, that after scrutinising the footage, his office may in future enquire the purpose of any future visits by Dhankar, other than constitutionally mandatory appearances such as the governor's address of the inaugural session of the house.
Banerjee, a well known lawyer, also alleged that no governor in the past "had addressed the media in the fashion", Dhankhar did on January 25, The Governor while speaking to the press after paying floral tributes at the statue of B R Ambedkar on the Assembly premises on the National Voters Day, not only castigated the speaker and the chief minister but also described the political condition in West Bengal as "horrible and frightening". He said the governor had told the speaker before his visit that he would pay floral tributes to the founder of Constitution but "used the occasion (instead) to criticise the government inside the hallowed premises of the assembly which had never been done by any of his predecessors in past."
"He did not even go to the press corner situated in the premises," the Speaker said.
Banerjee also claimed Dhankhar did not inform his office about the status of bills such as those related to separating Howrah and Bally Municipal areas which had been passed by the house.
BJP state President Sukanta Majumdar described the Speaker's retort as a deliberate attempt to run down the office of governor and against the spirit of constitution.
"The Speaker cannot consider assembly as his domain. He should act as Speaker not as the representative of Trinamool. In past the governor's speech in house had been blacked out but the Speaker never acted on the issue," the Balurghat MP said.
The governor had said on Tuesday, "We have seen post-poll violence of unprecedented level. Those who dared to vote according to their own volition had to pay the price with their life. Democracy is in deep peril here."
Noting that a fact-finding committee appointed by the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission had observed that rule of the ruler and not the law prevails in the state, he had said, "this is an understatement; West Bengal's situation is so horrible and frightening that there is horror about the ruler here."
He had also come down heavily on Speaker Biman Banerjee, accusing him of violating constitutional norms and not providing information sought by him, including details of the assembly resolution on the extension of BSF's area of operation.
Dhankhar also alleged his address to the assembly was blacked out twice.
The Governor has had several run-ins with the West Bengal government including over appointment of vice chancellors of state universities and over asking the chief secretary and Police chiefs to appear before him.
Speaker Banerjee too has in the past protested and written letters to President Ram Nath Kovind on Dhankar's alleged "interference" in legislative matters.
Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari on Wednesday claimed that he was not invited to the Republic Day parade here as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government was "yet to reconcile to her election defeat against him in Nandigram".
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of another programme, Adhikari said Banerjee tried to "avenge her humiliating assembly poll defeat" by dropping his name from the list of invitees for the Red Road parade.
"She is yet to reconcile to her defeat against me. There could be a remedy to cancer but not to revengeful mindset and jealousy. The CM must have forgotten that not inviting the leader of opposition was against the protocol," the Nandigram MLA, who was once a part of the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, said.
Adhikari pointed out that last year, months ahead of the assembly polls, then leader of opposition Abdul Mannan was an invitee to the Republic Day parade.
Transport Minister and Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakim, when approached, said he had no information about the matter.
Hakim, however, noted that Adhikari had "failed to turn up at the Independence Day programme on Red Road last year. I am not aware about the reasons".
Veteran Congress MP of Rajya Sabha Pradip Bhattacharya said he won't be able to speak on behalf of the Nandigram MLA as the two don't share the same ideology "but if what he has claimed is true it was unfortunate.
The leader of opposition should always be invited to such events".
The CM, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, cabinet ministers were among those who attended the Red Road programme on Wednesday, held with COVID-19 restrictions in place.