The war of words between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankar intensified on Friday amid the coronavirus crisis, PTI reported. The state has so far reported 514 Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths.
Dhankar accused Banerjee’s government of playing appeasement politics. Referring to a letter she wrote to him on Thursday, where the chief minister accused the governor of repeatedly interfering in the government’s functioning, Dhankar said it was a strategy to cover up “monumental failures” in handling the health crisis.
“Your communication is part of the alibi strategy that emanates from a script that seeks to cover up monumental failures in these challenging times by a series of blunders,” Dhankar said. “Your appeasement of the minority community was so explicit and awkward on the Nizamuddin Markaz incident. This is most unfortunate and cannot be appreciated.”
Earlier this month, Banerjee had said that Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, does not discriminate on the basis of caste or religion and refused to divulge information on those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi in March. “Don’t ask communal questions,” she had said during a press briefing when asked if all those who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event had been identified in the state.
Dhankar urged the chief minister to “shun politics and confrontational approach” and not compound the miseries of the people of Bengal. This was the second letter he wrote to the chief minister within 24 hours. In his first letter, which he said was only an initial response to Banerjee’s missive from Thursday, Dhankhar accused her of having an elementary ignorance of the Constitution.
Banerjee’s letter, also sent on Thursday, had said: “The tone tenor and language of your letters and messages to me are unparliamentary and an insult to my office. You appear to have forgotten that I am an elected Chief Minister of a proud Indian state. You also seem to have forgotten that you are a nominated Governor.”
Responding to this, Dhankar said: “Your constant refrain of governor being ‘nominated’ is lamentable and can be ascribed only to elementary ignorance of the Constitution.”
“Perhaps this is not the first factual tripping at your end,” he added. “This response be taken as initial one and a thorough one will be imparted to you tomorrow with complete documentation so that people of the state, as you say, are made aware and come to know the series of acts of indignities and indiscretions heaped by you, your ministers on the Governor all through.”
The exchange of letters came amid a tussle between West Bengal and the central government over the Centre’s teams deputed in the state to check the lockdown situation.
The Centre had on April 20 dispatched two inter-ministerial central teams, or IMCTs, to West Bengal. However, the teams reported that the Banerjee-led government was obstructing their work and denying access to certain areas in the state. The state government had claimed that the teams were dispatched without its knowledge.
Subsequently, on April 21, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs directed the West Bengal government to allow the central teams to carry out their work unhindered. The next day, the state government said that it will fully cooperate with the teams. In a letter to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha denied that the work of these teams was being obstructed.