Bengal Governor, State at loggerheads
The newly appointed Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankar has taken on State Education Minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee over incidents of violence on the campus of Jadavpur University in Kolkata on Thursday evening.The Governor had intervened to personally escort Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo from the campus amid protests and heckling from students, who objected to his presence.Mr. Chatterjee had claimed that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had requested the Governor not to go to the university at the peak of commotion and to “give the government some time to peacefully solve the issue.”“This is most unfortunate and shocking that our Governor, the custodian of the Constitution of the State, without informing the elected government went to the so-called rescue of the BJP leader from Jadavpur University… Chief Minister requested him several times that the Governor being the constitutional head need not go at this moment. The CM requested him to give the government some time to peacefully solve the issue,” Mr. Chatterjee said.A press note issued by Mr. Dhankar’s office said, the Minister was not aware of the developments that took place before the Governor went to the University to rescue Mr. Supriyo. “Obviously, he did not know of the developments that took place between the Governor and the DGP [Director General of Police]/ CS [Chief Secretary] as also the conversation with the Honorable Chief Minister,” the press note said.Mr. Supriyo, along with designer Agnimitra Paul, had gone to the campus to attend a seminar organised by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Thursday. However, several students had protested against their entry by raising black flags and asked him to leave. The situation escalated when Mr. Supriyo refused to budge. As tensions rose, he remained stuck inside the college premises till the Governor arrived at around 8 p.m. and escorted him out.Meanwhile, members of ABVP and BJP forcefully entered the college premises, vandalised university property and beat up some students.Trinamool issued a statement on Friday, reiterating Mr. Chatterjee’s “stand” and argued that it “must be made very clear [that] universities are autonomous institutions and as per time-honoured tradition, police cannot enter university campus without permission of VC.”While acknowledging that Mr. Dhankar had spoken to the Chief Minister and “duly appraised her”, the Raj Bhawan note claimed that the Governor had very little option but to head for the university in south Kolkata.“There were many telephonic interactions between the two and in his high regard that the Governor/Chancellor has for the Hon’ble CM, personally and for the Office the CM holds, he would not like to divulge the conversation between the two, except that he left for the place after sufficient time had elapsed and the situation did not show any change,” the Raj Bhawan press note argued.However, a senior Trinamool leader claimed that it is the “job of the State administration to appraise the Governor about a crisis as law and order is still the State subject.” This is for the first time that the new Governor and the ruling party directly confronted each other.