West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday claimed that the Mamata Banerjee government was applying pressure on vice chancellors of most universities in the state, Hindustan Times reported. Dhankhar, who is the chancellor of state universities because of his constitutional position, made the remarks at the silver jubilee celebrations of Farakka Syed Nurul Hasan College in Murshidabad district.
The comments came a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took an apparent dig at the governor, accusing him of acting as a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party. “I don’t comment about constitutional posts,” Banerjee said according to ANI. “But there are some people who are behaving just like a BJP mouthpiece. You have seen what is going on in my state. They are trying to run a parallel administration.”
Dhankar said he had told the government that its role and his as chancellor were defined by law. “We have to treat the universities as temples so that students can study in peace,” he added. “This will be my effort.”
Later, Dhankhar told the media in the city of Bardhaman that showing concern about poor education, health system and roads does not make anyone a mouthpiece of any party. “When I praised Mamata for her commendable work for Cyclone Bulbul preparedness, nobody called me the chief minister’s mouthpiece,” he added.
“The dialogue between the chief minister and the governor is either one-to-one or through a communication,” Dhankhar said, when he asked about Banerjee’s allegation that a parallel administration was being run in the state. “I have not had any one-to-one communication with her on this point and she has not written any communication to me. I have not got any communication from the state government so far that any of my actions are beyond my right.”
On November 11, Dhankhar had made a surprise visit to Singur, which was the centre of a farmers’ agitation in 2006. However, no official was present at the local block development office and Dhankhar had to return to Kolkata after meeting some clerks.
Dhankhar and the state government have been at loggerheads since his appointment in July. Last month, Dhankhar said he felt “insulted and deeply pained” at a Durga Puja event hosted by Banerjee. He alleged that the ruling Trinamool Congress made him sit on a separate stage during the programme, which went on for four hours. Banerjee invited Dhankhar to her home for Kali Puja celebrations later in the month.
In September, the Trinamool Congress had expressed unhappiness after the governor went to Jadavpur University to escort out Union minister Babul Supriyo, who was allegedly heckled by protesting students. The Trinamool Congress described Dhankhar’s visit to the university on September 19 as “most unfortunate and shocking”.