West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asking her to withdraw the “unconstitutional statement declaring jihad” against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The statement came a day after Banerjee had said at an Asansol rally in Bangla that July 21 should be declared as a day of jihad against the BJP, India Today reported.
The Trinamool Congress marks July 21 as martyrs’ day every year in memory of 13 Youth Congress workers who were killed allegedly in police firing during a rally in 1993, NDTV reported.
Ten BJP leaders had asked Dhankhar for constitutional intervention against Banerjee’s statement.
On Wednesday, the governor said that the chief minister’s comments was the “death knell” of democracy.
“The statement, revealed in the video, is most unfortunate and indicates constitutional anarchy,” Dhankhar said. “It defies logic and reasons as to how one under the Oath of Constitution and holding the position of chief minister could make such pernicious declaration of ‘jihad’ against a political party.”
The Oxford dictionary defines jihad as “[in Islam] a spiritual struggle within yourself to stop yourself from breaking religious or moral laws” or “a holy war fought by Muslims to defend Islam”.
Dhankhar said that the governance in the state has been distanced from the Constitution and the law.
“I cannot but take [the] strongest possible exception to your [Banerjee’s] statement,” he said. “To subserve democratic values and constitutionalism, you are urged to forthwith withdraw this most unconstitutional declaration of ‘jihad’ against the BJP on 21 July, 2022.”
Since 2019, when Dhankhar took over as the governor of West Bengal, he and Banerjee have been at loggerheads on several matters.
Dhankhar has been a vocal critic of the Mamata Banerjee government. On her part, Banerjee has accused Dhankhar of being a mouthpiece of the BJP-led central government. She has alleged that the governor interferes with the state government’s functioning.
In January, Dhankhar had alleged that the state government appointed 25 university vice chancellors without his consent. In response, the state government had claimed that the education department has the right to appoint vice chancellors selected by the search committee if the governor refused to approve the names.
On June 13, West Bengal passed a Bill to make the chief minister the chancellor of all the state-run universities. So far, the governor held the position of chancellor.
The Bill, introduced by state Education Minister Bratya Basu, was passed after 182 MLAs voted in its favour and 40 votes against it.