In one of his most serious allegations against the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government, West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday said that Raj Bhawan in Kolkata was under surveillance and information was being leaked out.
Alleging that the list of guests who attended the Independence Day programme at the governor’s residence was leaked out “electronically” on August 14, Dhankhar said, “Raj Bhawan is under surveillance. This should not happen. How can an office of the Constitution be under surveillance? I will take legal steps once our inquiry is over.”
“Public servants do not get into political mode. Nobody is above law,” said Dhankhar, indirectly referring to those under suspicion.
Dhankhar made the comments during his media address at a function organized at Raj Bhawan to mark the second death anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. He also criticized chief minister Mamata Banerjee for not attending the At Home function at the Raj Bhawan on Independence Day
Making another serious allegation, Dhankhar said, “There is lawlessness in the state…. There was a killing in Hooghly district (on August 15)… The dangerous head of Maoism is getting visible with support of state actors.”
The TMC reacted sharply, saying the allegations were unfounded.
“Our governor has made unfounded allegations. If he thinks that he is under surveillance then he should give proof. The guest list is no secret. Any employee of Raj Bhawan could have accessed it,” said TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy.
In a rebuttal to Dhankhar’s allegation that Banerjee set a “bad precedent” by not attending the tea party at Raj Bhawan on August 15, “After the morning parade the chief minister paid a visit to Raj Bhawan with the chief secretary, home secretary and other top officials. She did not attend the afternoon tea party. She has never been in favour of attending gatherings in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even we have been asked not to attend Parliamentary meetings in Delhi. The state government advised Raj Bhawan to keep the gathering small. The governor is making an issue out of nothing.”
“The duties of a chief minister are outlined in Section 167 of the Constitution. Nowhere is it written that a chief minister has to attend all programmes at Raj Bhawan. It is the governor who is breaking norms and protocols,” said Roy.
Dhankhar did not name anyone in his Sunday address when he talked of the return of Maoism but political observers said he was possibly referring to Chhatradhar Mahato, the tribal leader from Jhargram district who headed the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), an alleged Maoists-backed outfit during the last years of Left rule.
Mahato, who was released from jail after 10 years in February this year after the Kolkata high court commuted his life sentence, was inducted into the TMC state committee on July 23 by Mamata Banerjee.
“The governor’s comment is unfortunate and unfounded. Except for Maoist leader Kishenji, who was killed in an encounter, the government did not use any strong arm tactics to contain Maoism. Bengal is the only state where Maoism was controlled with development,” said Roy