Kolkata: After weeks of hostility and war of words between the West Bengal Governor and the chief minister, the state assembly was witness to a few moments of what appeared to be bonhomie between the two - it also included a bouquet of flowers. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar delivered the opening speech of the budget session - which contained Mamata Banerjee’s stand against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) - with words such as “divisive India”, “majoritarianism” and “intolerance” all thrown in.
Earlier, Dhankar had issued a statement to the media, saying he had requested the state government to add and replace certain paragraphs from the speech. But the request was not accepted. He had also said he would not cross the “Lakshman Rekha”, and the Governor kept his word.
That Dhankar and Mamata share frosty ties is no secret. The two often had conflict even on issues like Dhankar’s sitting arrangement in a Durga Puja carnival and a locked gate of the state assembly, which is meant for the governor’s entry. Their war of words continued over the CAA too and the protests that Mamata held over the contentious legislation. The latest development, therefore, was a welcome change from what has been the case so far.
Chopper to Dhankhar
Meanwhile, in what can be seen as a sign of reconciliation between the state administration and the governor, the Mamata government has decided to provide Governor Dhankhar with a helicopter for his travel to Santiniketan. The governor's secretariat had requested a chopper from the state government for Dhankhar's travel and, unlike previous occasions, it has been approved.
'We had sought a chopper for the governor's to travel to Santiniketan to attend a programme. It was approved by the state government,' a Raj Bhavan official said. The development comes a day after Dhankhar held a meeting with state Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee to discuss the state Budget session.
A senior TMC leader said the development is an indication of both the Raj Bhavan and the state government softening their stance. On several occasions last year, the state government had rejected Dhankhar's request for a chopper to travel to Santiniketan, Domkal and Farakka, which was around 300 km from Kolkata.
The governor has been at loggerheads with the TMC government over a number of issues ranging from Dhankhar's seating arrangement at the Durga Puja carnival to comments on his security since he rushed to Jadavpur University to 'rescue' Union minister Babul Supriyo who was heckled there by a section of students.