Dhankhar asks public servants not to work as political functionaries

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Darjeeling (WB), Nov 2 (PTI) West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday asked public servants not to work as political functionaries and said that he will ensure that assembly polls are held in a fair and impartial manner in 2021.

Dhankhar arrived in Darjeeling on Sunday on a month- long visit.

Darjeeling District Magistrate S Ponnambalam and Superintendent of Police Dr Santosh Nimbalkar called on him at Raj Bhavan here on Monday.

'I have continuously tried to explain to them that a public servant cannot be a political functionary. A public servant works with a certain dignity. This dignity doesn't give him the right to work as a political element,' the governor told reporters after meeting the two officials.

Emphasised that political neutrality @MamataOfficial in functioning was non negotiable,' he also tweeted.

After meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on October 29, Dhankhar had alleged that the police and bureaucracy are being politicised in West Bengal.

This was the first time any SP or DM responded to his call for a meeting, he said.

Siliguri Commissioner of Police Tripurari Atharva had also called on him on Monday before he left for Darjeeling Hills.

Dhankhar had on various occasions asked senior state government officials to meet him in Kolkata and during his visit to districts but only a few of them obliged.

On the assembly elections likely to be held in April- May next year, he said, 'As governor, I have two objectives.

People should not be under any impression that there will be no fair polls and I am giving my word to the people that there will be free and fair polls.' 'However difficult the road is, however hostile the circumstances are, my effort will be to ensure a free, impartial, violence-free poll,' Dhankhar said.

West Bengal BJP has been claiming that free and fair election in the state was not possible under the Trinamool Congress (TMC) regime unless President's rule is imposed.

The faceoff between Raj Bhavan and the state government has set off a political storm in the state with the Bengal BJP standing firmly behind Dhankhar and the TMC charging the governor with functioning like a saffron party leader.

'He is acting as the spokesman of a political party.

He had reportedly asked DMs, SPs not to play with fire. Can he make such a statement? We ask him to refrain from making such statements,' TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said in Kolkata.

Dhankhar had said that the purpose of his visit to Darjeeling Hills is to assess 'the ground realities'.

The governor's tour of Darjeeling comes in the backdrop of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supremo Bimal Gurung announcing his party's exit from the NDA and pledging support to the TMC in next year's assembly elections.

The TMC leadership, however, is apprehensive of Dhankhar's visit to the hills as he has been at loggerheads with the Mamata Banerjee dispensation since assuming charge as the governor over a year ago. PTI SUS NN NN