Kolkata: Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi believes that the state government is being “misguided” about certain Raj Bhavan moves, which has led to the stand-off in Parliament and criticism from Trinamool Congress and other opposition parties like Congress, Samajwadi Partyand the Left.
“The government is being misguided. I have not taken any decision. I have only met government officials and sou-ght information from them. I will speak about this at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner,” the governor told TOI on Wednesday.
The governor’s nuanced response came after state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee made a special mention in the state ass-embly about the governor’s alleged breach of his constitutional position. Chatterjee expressed his angst over the governor’s seeking a meeting with the Malda divisional commissioner and the Murshidabad range inspector general of police on issues like “law and order”, “border areas” and “development schemes” in Malda and Murshidabad.
“The governor has tarnished his post by calling officials for the meeting. It goes against the Constitution. We condemn this action. We res-pect him as the constitutional head of the state. But we do not accept such action under any circumstances,” Chatterjee said in the assembly on Wednesday.
Unlike in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, where chairman M Venkaiah Naidudisallowed any reference or discussion on the governor’s role, state assembly speaker Biman Banerjee allowed the Bengal parliamentary affairs minister to make the special mention. This, however, sparked off another controversy. “Actions taken by constitutional heads like state governors and the president of India cannot be called into question. I don’t know how the speaker allowed this,” leader of opposition Abdul Mannan said. He was out of town on Wednesday.
Caught off guard, Banerjee insisted that he did not allow any discussion on the matter. “There was no formal motion or proposal for discussion. Only a statement was made. No formal discussion was allowed,” Banerjee said.
Left Front’s Sujan Chakrabarty and Congress’s Asit Mitra objected to the state parliamentary minister’s making such a unilateral mention of the governor’s role. They urged the speaker to allow a discussion on the issue.
The issue has sparked a fierce constitutional debate outside the assembly as well. Calcutta High Court lawyer and Congress leader Arunava Ghosh held that the Constitution had given “wide-ranging powers” to the governor under Article 163(2)1.
The ruling Trinamool, however, cited the instance as a clear case of constitutional overreach. “The governor is advised by the council of ministers. He could have sought a report from the chief minister, who has been holding administrative meetings in the districts on a regular basis,” Chatterjee said.