West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday called a meeting of all parties to decide the course of action on two bills pending before him. Dhankhar posted on Twitter his letter from January 11, inviting Trinamool Congress chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan of the Congress, along with the legislative party leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and others, for a meeting on January 17.
The two bills Dhankhar is yet to sign are the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, and the West Bengal State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2019.
Dhankhar alleged that the government is not providing adequate responses to his queries, while both the Assembly and the government have been putting out factually incorrect information.
However, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty and Congress leader Abdul Mannan said they will not be able to attend the meeting, the Hindustan Times reported. “We have no reservation in meeting the governor but I will be in Kerala on that day,” Chakraborty said.
Mannan said he would be in New Delhi. The Leader of the Opposition added that while the Congress has no compunctions addressing the anti-lynching bill, it has not yet taken a decision on discussing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes state commission bill.
“The governor’s move, inviting all-party meeting to discuss a bill, is not unconstitutional but unprecedented,” Mannan said. “We don’t think it is right to take one unprecedented step after another. In any case, we don’t want to do anything that could widen the rift between the government and the governor. So, we will discuss it within our party.”
Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Biswanath Chowdhury said a decision on attending the meeting will be taken at the “Left Front level”. However, he added that he will not be able to attend the event due to his poor health.
Manoj Tigga, leader of the BJP’s legislative party in the West Bengal Assembly, said he would readily accept the invitation once he receives it. On the other hand, the ruling Trinamool Congress is yet to respond to the invitation.
Dhankhar and Mamata Banerjee have repeatedly clashed over the past year on a variety of subjects. In December, Banerjee said briefing the governor on the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act is “not her prime focus”. Dhankhar had called upon Banerjee to “personally update” him on the protests in the state after he got no response from two top officials.
On December 5, Dhankhar said he was forced to wait outside the state Assembly as the gate from which he was supposed to enter was locked. The governor’s remarks came amid a two-day adjournment of the House after bills slated to be tabled in the Assembly were still awaiting Dhankhar’s approval.