New dispute over the replacement of the governor as university chancellor
A few days after suggestions were made that he should be replaced from the titular post of Chancellor of the state universities in West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar hit the state government on Sunday. The state’s education minister, Bratya Basu, tweeted on Friday that it was necessary to become “introverted”, whether the state should continue with the colonial legacy, in which the governor is ex officio chancellor of all state universities and appoints outstanding scholars should be instead. He later proposed to journalists that the Prime Minister be made interim chancellor.
“I was amazed that the education minister, who should have interacted with me, said instead that the prime minister would become chancellor,” said Dhankhar after landing at the airport here during a week-long visit to northern Bengal.
“You are making the prime minister not only the chancellor but also the governor,” he said sarcastically, describing Basu’s attitude as inappropriate.
Dhankar had previously called a meeting of the Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of private universities in the state in his capacity as a visitor for December 18. The meeting had failed, however, as most of the university directors had apologized. An attempt to hold the meeting on December 23 also failed, and the governor had used social media to vent his anger.
An earlier attempt by him to convene a meeting of the vice chancellors or heads of state universities had also ended without participation. Governor Dhankar has had several disputes with the state government under Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee over a number of issues and the dispute over his attempts to exercise his powers as chancellor.
Dhankar also reiterated that he had not approved the Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, adding that a motion by the Attorney General to this effect in the Calcutta High Court may be wrong.
“There is no paper, no letter, no discussion, no examination before the governor regarding the division of Howrah Municipal Corporation and the formation of the Bally Ward,” he said. The governor had previously said that he returned the bill to exclude areas of the former Bally Ward from Howrah Municipal Corporation on Nov. 24 with questions still to be answered.
“It is wrong for the Attorney General to claim in the High Court that the governor approved the bill,” he said. Attorney General SN Mookherjee told the Cclautta Supreme Court on Friday that the governor had approved the bill, paving the way for separate elections for the two bodies.
However, Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy said the state had sent his response to questions posed by the governor about the law previously passed in the West Bengal Assembly.
“He (governor) is deliberately trying to postpone the elections for Howrah Municipal Corporation and Bally Municipality … this is purely political,” he said, questioning Dhankhar’s claim that he had not approved the bill.
However, the BJP’s national vice president Dilip Ghosh accused that Mamata Banerjee’s government was trying to turn the governor into a stamp.
“It’s not good for the constitutional constitution,” said Ghosh.
Dhankhar, who has had a not-so-friendly relationship with the TMC government since taking office as governor in July 2019, with neither side having a chance to attack each other, also criticized the assembly spokesman, Biman Banerjee.
Banerjee said Saturday that he had written to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Dhankhar of “meddling” in legal matters.
“The spokesman should be aware of the duties and responsibilities of the office,” said the governor.
He said that on the two occasions he spoke outside the house, he was reminded of the emergency time as his address had been blacked out both times.
Dhankhar said that when he first attended the meeting, it was locked.
“Such behavior on the part of the speaker cannot be accepted,” he said.
Sougata Roy, however, took offense at Dhankar’s comments on the speaker, saying the governor “is overstepping the line and has previously insulted Biman Banerjee,” he said.
However, BJP’s Ghosh said the governor was a constitutional authority and insulting Dhankhar was degrading a constitutional post. “This gives cause for concern for a democratic structure,” said the BJP chief.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)