In a new twist to the Governor versus Chief Minister fight in Bengal, Mamata Banerjee today raised corruption charges for the first time.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is a “corrupt man”, said the Chief Minister, alleging that he had been charged in the 1996 Jain hawala case involving a dairy that named politicians who had received kickbacks.
” This Governor’s name was in the Jain Hawala case. But they have gone to court, cleared it from the court. There is a PIL. But the PIL is pending. What you want to know? He is a corrupt man, I am sorry to say. All corruption-oriented man. Why does the Centre allow a Governor like this? Take out the charge-sheet and see if his name was there or not,” Mamata Banerjee told reporters this afternoon.
She also accused the Governor of visiting North Bengal as a political stunt, claiming that he had only met MLAs and MPs of the BJP.
“Why did he suddenly tour North Bengal? I can sense a conspiracy to divide North Bengal,” she charged, apparently referring to BJP leaders’ demands for separate statehood for North Bengal and Jangalmahal.
In a press meet after Ms Banerjee’s, the Governor said he was “shocked” at the Chief Minister’s allegations.
“Your Governor has not been charge-sheeted. There is no such document. This is far from facts. This is plain and simple untruth. This is misinformation. I did not expect this from a seasoned politician,” Mr Dhankhar told reporters.
Bengal’s top two have fought almost constantly in their three-year working relationship, ever since Mr Dhankhar, 70, took office. Ms Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress accuse Mr Dhankhar of bias and of brazenly pushing the agenda of the BJP government at the Centre.
Moments after Ms Banerjee took oath for the third time after a huge election victory in May, the Governor chose to raise violence in parts of Bengal after the verdict and reminded her of her duty to control law and order in the state.
“Why should the Governor dictate a government that won a huge mandate,” the Chief Minister questioned today.
Ms Banerjee said she had written multiple letters to the Centre to remove Mr Dhankhar.
“As per the Constitution, I will continue to meet him, talk to him and follow all the courtesies… But, the union government should act based on my letters,” she said.
Earlier, she had also said she had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi thrice to withdraw him as Governor.
The latest clash may be linked to the Governor’s address to the assembly scheduled for July 2. The Governor said he had sought a discussion with her on the draft of his address that had been sent to him by the state government.
The Governor is not bound to read everything the government writes in the speech to the assembly. “If they write anything in the address which is unconstitutional… will I read that? Every address has to conform to constitutional parametres and boundaries,” Mr Dhankhar said, setting up yet another confrontation with the Bengal government.