West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee exchanged bitter letters on Monday as the protests against the amended Citizenship Act continued to rock the state.
Dhankhar first called upon Banerjee to “personally update” him on the protests in the state after he got no response from two top officials. “In view of enormity of situation I have called upon Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to personally update me at Raj Bhavan tomorrow at a time of her choice,” he tweeted. “There is no response from Chief Secretary and DGP thus far. This is unfortunate and unexpected of them.”
Dhankhar had summoned the two top officials of the state on Sunday, according to PTI.
In her reply, Banerjee said that briefing the governor was not the “prime focus” of her administration. “I am really sorry to see your frequent tweets and press briefings criticising the state government and also involving the senior officers of the state,” the chief minister wrote in her letter, reported PTI. “The constitutional obligation in my view is to support the state government machinery to maintain peace and harmony rather than aggravating the situation by provoking the elements who may attempt to disturb the order and tranquillity.”
To this, the governor immediately replied expressing his “deep pain and anguish” at her “unwarranted tangential approach”. He added that despite the “heaped indignities” during his term in West Bengal, he would like to work together for the larger public interest. He also suggested Banerjee to “engage in soul searching”.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee led a massive protest march against the amendments made to the Citizenship Act and vowed not to implement the legislation in the state. “As long as I am alive, we will not implement NRC and CAB,” she said. “They can dismiss our government if they want. We will not surrender.” Banerjee also asserted that “no one will be ousted from the state”.
Before the protest march, Governor Dhankhar said he was anguished by the chief minister’s rallies. “I am extremely anguished that CM and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA [Citizenship Amendment Act], law of the land,” he tweeted. “This is unconstitutional. I call upon chief minister to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation.”
Banerjee will participate in various protests over the next three days to demand the scrapping of the amendments, reported NDTV. The contentious law allows citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. It excludes Muslims from these countries.
Follow our live blog on the political fallout of the Citizenship Act across India.