Just at the time when it is widely debated whether the post of the governor has any utility, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is trying to expand the boundaries of the governor’s power. He is not only overstepping his politically valid powers, but he claims he is being guided by the Constitution. He reiterates, with a political agenda, he is forced to do what he is doing because of the situation in Bengal. He also clarifies that it is up to the Centre to decide what to do on his reports, thereby making clear the intention and the goal.
The latest in the flare up is the issue of governor’s speech to be delivered in the assembly. The governor has objected to certain parts of it which he has described as ‘untrue’.
He claims a governor cannot be forced to read out what is untrue. But the Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee is not ready to budge. She has indicated that the speech that has been vetted by her cabinet would not be changed. She thinks the governor has to read it out.
This came on the top of a fresh controversy that has erupted on Monday. First, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar a “corrupt man”. She claimed his name was in the 1996 Jain Hawala case chargesheet. Soon after the governor denied the allegations, and claimed as he had raised the issue of corruption in GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) and other places, he is being attacked like this.
The Jain Hawala case, also known as the Jain Diaries case, involved payments allegedly made by politicians through four hawala brokers, who were known as the Jain brothers.
It was Rs 133 crore scandal that allegedly involved some of the country’s leading politicians, including BJP leaders LK Advani, Madan Lal Khurana and Arif Mohammed Khan and Congress’ Madhavrao Scindia. The governor reminded that Ajit Panja (who was a TMC MP) and Yashwant Sinha (who has joined TMC recently) were also named in the case.
While these are political allegations and counter allegations hurled by the politicians, the governor included, a serious question about the role of the governor has come to the fore thanks to Dhankar’s activism. After independence, the governor was given undefined discretionary power as the new state was facing the danger of being disintegrated.
Now, after 70 years, the governor’s role should be limited to decide whom to call to form the government in case of a hung verdict, and to report to the centre whether the state government is acting with a goal of disintegrating from the nation. But the West Bengal governor is picking up issues that he should not. He is taking advantage of undefined areas of his power.