New Delhi: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday (June 1) stirred a controversy by saying ‘ego prevailed over public service’ on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipping Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting to review post-cyclone damages on May 28.
Terming the Governor’s comment ‘unfortunate’, the ruling party in the state asserted that the chief minister is involved in public service 24/7 and all her actions are prompted by her concern for the interests of the state.
Dhankhar said the Chief Minister had called him up before the meeting at Kalaikunda in Paschim Medinipur district and indicated that she won’t attend it if Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari is present in it. “Constrained by false narrative to put record straight: On May 27 at 2316 hrs CM @MamataOfficial messaged ‘may I talk? urgent’,” Dhankhar tweeted. “Thereafter on phone indicated boycott by her & officials of PM Review Meet #CycloneYaas if LOP @SuvenduWB attends it. Ego prevailed over Public service,” he said in another Twitter post.
Besides Adhikari, Dhankhar and BJP MP Debasree Chaudhuri was present in the meeting.
Mamata said she had skipped the meeting because ‘a BJP MLA has no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting’. Adhikari has defeated Mamata in Nandigram seat in the recent assembly elections.
In a letter to PM Narendra Modi on May 31, Mamata had written, “I wanted to have a quiet word with you, a meeting between the PM and the CM as usual. You, however, revised the structure of the meeting to include a local MLA from your party and I am of the view that he had no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting.” Mamata had also mentioned in the letter that she had no objection to the presence of the governor and other Union ministers in the meeting.
Centre vs Mamata Banerjee over Chief Secretary row
After the Kalaikunda episode, a fresh Centre-state tussle was witnessed over the services of the then Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, who had accompanied the chief minister to the meeting. On May 28, the Union government sent a letter to Bandopadhyay recalling him for central deputation. However, the move was strongly protested by Bengal Chief Minister, saying it contradicts the Centre’s approval for extension of Bandopadhyay’s services as the CS by three months due to the cyclone and COVID situation in the state.
Mamata sent a letter to Prime Minister Modi over the issue on Monday and appointed Bandopadhyay as her chief adviser for three years, after allowing him to retire from his post of Bengal Chief Secretary.