BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: The letter war between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar over the coronavirus crisis in the state continues. On Saturday, the chief minister shot off a sarcasm-filled 13-page letter to the Governor. Her last letter was 14 pages long.
Referring to the Governor’s letter of April 23 and 24, Mamata Banerjee said: “Communications of such content, tenor and tone…are unprecedented in the annals of constitutional history”. She accused Dhankhar of using language that “even with maximum restraint can only be described as vituperative, intemperate, intimidating, abusive and insulting”.
“When I read your two letters, and many earlier ones as well, I felt more sad than angry. My second emotion was one of amusement,” Mamata Banerjee wrote, listing Mr Dhankar’s “choicest epithets”.
“I list my favourite ones, verbatim taken from you:…like loose cannons in public domain; driven by external script; theatrics and politicking, law unto oneself…bravado mode of collision…but respected Governor, preaching without practice and sermonising while violating, does not behove you or your office,” she added.
The Governor responded, tweeting, “I find no substance in her version, both in fact and law”. He also indicated a fresh chapter would be written in this face-off, saying, “Reply will be sent as her letter has content to which I cannot subscribe as it eclipses essence of Constitution.”
Dhankhar, however, also sought to play down the confrontation slightly given the coronavirus crisis, saying this was “no time to bicker” and calling on the chief minister to “focus on the grim situation and work in togetherness”.
Earlier this week, the Governor accused Mamata Banerjee of trying to cover up “monumental failures”. He attacked the CM over what he called diversionary tactics and appeasement politics.
Mamata Banerjee responded with a five-page letter reminding the Governor she was elected head of state and he was only nominated — a point she underlined in her second letter as well.
The chief minister also quoted from three Supreme Court judgments to underline Dhankhar’s status, pointing to a 2016 ruling in which the top court had said, “…not within the realm of the Governor to embroil himself in any political thicket. Governor must remain aloof from any disagreement, discord, disharmony…within individual political parties… Governor must keep clear of horse-trading.”
At the end of the letter, Mamata Banerjee told the Governor that he had limited powers to bring about any change and urged him to act “politely”.
“In a nutshell, if you do not agree with my government, you may politely bring your grievance to my attention; if it still not resolved to your satisfaction, there is, unfortunately, no other power in you, so long as my government commands the confidence of the legislature,” she said, adding, “Truth is always bitter but that is the constitutional truth.”