TMC seeks recall of Bengal governor, Dhankhar hits back

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(Eds: Clubs related stories) Kolkata, Dec 30 (PTI) West Bengal's ruling TMC Wednesday intensified its war of attrition with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, demanding his recall for 'transgressing constitutional limits'.

An angry Dhankhar shot back, claiming free and fair elections are not held in the state and that it is his duty to ensure people exercise their franchise without fear.

A team of TMC MPs has sent a letter to the President on Tuesday listing 'all such transgressions' by Dhankhar in recent times and urged him to take action as per Article 156, Clause 1 of the Constitution, the party's Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy told reporters here.

'The governor holds office during the pleasure of the President as per Article 156, Clause 1. We have urged the President to withdraw the pleasure, which translates into removing this governor,' Roy said.

The relevant article of the Constitution relates to a state governor holding office as long as the President does not withdraw the 'pleasure'.

'We have noticed that since he arrived in the state in July last year, he has been regularly tweeting, holding press meets and participating in TV discussions, where he is regularly passing comments on the functioning of the state government, our officers, ministers, the chief minister, even once on the conduct of the speaker of the assembly. Every such action is violative of his constitutional rights,' Roy said.

Alleging that Dhankhar has been making such statements in the public at the behest of the BJP-led government at the Centre to embarrass the TMC government in the state, Roy said, 'This had never happened earlier in the 75-year-long history of West Bengal. If he has to say anything, he can communicate that in the way as provided to him by the Constitution, not by tweeting or holding press meets.' Dhankhar, who has been locked in a seemingly interminable battle with the Mamata Banerjee government, shot back, asserting his duty is to ensure that people get the opportunity to exercise their franchise without fear.

'Free and fair elections without fear are not held (in the state),' Dhankhar told reporters during a visit to a temple in the western part of the city.

The governor said it does not concern him for whom the people vote, but it is his duty to make sure that they get to exercise their franchise without any intimidation.

He also urged the government machinery to be neutral during the West Bengal Assembly elections likely in April- May next year.

Dhankhar has often accused the state's civil and police administration of succumbing to the pressure exerted by the Mamata Banerjee government.

Roy cited Dhankhar's statement seeking expenditure details of the Bengal Business Summit, his demand for an apology from the chief minister over some of her recent comments and his 'threat to 25 IPS officers' as instances of the governor 'violating his rights and limitations'.

'He has also said it is his duty to ensure free and fair polls. Who is he? It is the domain of the Election Commission. Similarly, only the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) has the authority to seek details of the expenses of state-organised events like the Bengal Business Summit,' Roy said.

'A constitutional head chosen by the Centre cannot interfere in the functioning of the state in this way. It is akin to interference in the parliamentary system. He is intentionally doing these things. He is not fit to occupy the seat of the governor which he has been occupying,' Roy said.

Reacting to the development, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the governor is performing his constitutional duty as he finds that the state government is not performing its functions properly on certain parameters.

'I don't think the TMC's action of moving the President for the removal of the governor will have any impact. The President will go by his own understanding of the governor's role,' he told reporters.

'The governor is acting within the constitutional parameters as the head of the state. The TMC is doing this as it is scared,' the senior BJP leader added. PTI SUS/AMR ACD RBT SK SK