Bengal: A long history of Governor-state govt conflict

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI Photo

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s conflict with the state Government over several issues in the last couple of months is the latest addition to the long history of such strained relation between the Governor and the West Bengal government.

From rushing to Jadavpur University in Kolkata during the alleged heckling of Union Minister Babul Supriyo to accusing the state Government of blacking him out during the Durga Puja carnival Dhankhar’s actions has not gone down well with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government.

About two months after taking charge the new Governor’s relationship with the TMC government turned bitter also over issues such as his move to convene an administrative meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal and criticising the state administration for the murder of a school teacher and his family in Murshidabad district. West Bengal has a long history of conflict between the Governor and state Government.

After the United Front government in the state got dismissed on November 21, 1967, by the then Governor Dharam Veer it again returned to power 1969. Then the Governor’s speech scheduled to be delivered after the formation of a council of ministers had a paragraph which was in self-criticism of Dharam Veer. However, he refused to read out that portion of the speech.

The conflict again surfaced in 1977 after the Left Front came to power in the state with a massive mandate. The Left Front government never shared a cordial relation with the then Governor B D Pandey. The Left Front government targeted Pandey whenever there was a conflict between the state and the Centre.

Anant Prashad Sharma who became the Governor of West Bengal in 1984 was also not on good terms with the Left Front government. The relationship soured over the nomination of the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University as the Sharma nominated the candidate least favored by the state government.

The conflict between the state Government and the Governor reached a peak in 2007 when Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s comments regarding the police firing at Nandigram in East Medinipur district infuriated the Left Front Government. Gandhi’s description of the Nandigram incident as “bone-chilling terror” drew sharp retorts from Left Front leaders.

The trend continued after TMC came to power in 2011. After taking charge in 2014 as the Governor Kesharinath Tripathi was initially on cordial terms with the state government. However, following clashes between two communities in several areas of North 24 Paraganas district Tripathi criticised the state administration. Soon after an enraged Mamata Banerjee claimed that the Governor insulted her.

As there is no signs of improvement of Dhnakhar’s relation with the state government it seems that the trend of conflict between the Governor and state Government in Bengal is unlikely to end anytime soon.

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