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Bengal's new governor turns the clock back, steers clear of needling CM Mamata

Political observers felt that the days of regular spats that reached their peak during the tenure of Bose’s predecessor

Bengals new governor turns the clock back, steers clear of needling CM Mamata

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 Jan 2023 4:48 AM GMT

KOLKATA: Soon after taking over as the new governor of West Bengal in the closing quarter of the last year, CV Ananda Bose had sent a message of working in close coordination with the state government. He also said as the constitutional head of the state his relationship with the state secretariat will be more "administrative" than "official".

His message and the sequence of events thereafter hinted at a smoothening process in the Governor House-Secretariat relations. Political observers felt that the days of regular spats that reached their peak during the tenure of Bose's predecessor and current Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar are over and the process has begun for a workable Raj Bhavan-Secretariat relationship.

This perception strengthened further after a recent meeting of the governor with the vice-chancellors of the state universities, which was also attended by the education minister. At a joint press conference after the meeting on January 17 both the governor and the minister said that they will work jointly for the development of the state's education sector.

What was significant at the press meet was that the minister was repeatedly addressing the governor as "chancellor". This led to speculation that the state government might re-amend the previous bill amended during Dhankhar's regime, making the chief minister the chancellor of all state universities by replacing the governor. While the state BJP leaders were not happy with the growing bonhomie between the state government and the governor, they refrained from making any official comment on the matter.

However, things changed on January 26 when Saraswati Puja coincided with Republic Day. Respecting the traditional belief that Saraswati Puja is the most auspicious occasion for 'Hate Khori', a ritual to mark the beginning of learning, Bose took his first lesson of learning Bangla on Thursday in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was the chief guest on the occasion.

That opened a Pandora's box and the state BJP leaders vociferously started attacking the governor for participating in the event and allegedly dishonouring the post of the constitutional head of the state.

Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari remained absent from the programme despite being invited. He said that since the 'Hate Khori' programme was "cunningly orchestrated" by the state government and the chief minister to camouflage the scams in the education sector for which several officials of the education department, including the former education minister, are behind bars, the governor in future should be wary of being part of such programmes. BJP leader and party MP Dilip Ghosh said that it does not behove the governor to get involved in such a drama and from the event it is clear that the governor was being guided by someone else.

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen said the recent coordination between the governor and the state government is irksome to the BJP leaders, who always want a strained relationship between the two as happened during Dhankhar's tenure.

It remains to be seen whether the ire of the saffron camp in West Bengal will increase in the coming days or will the new governor amend his style? Political analyst Amal Sarkar feels that it is too early to conclude from the isolated 'Hate Khori' incident that the current governor is turning out to be a study in contrast to his predecessor.

"It will also depend on equations between the Union government and the West Bengal government or rather between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress in the long run. The same governor who is quite pally with the state government in the current context might adopt the same path of collision if the forthcoming West Bengal assembly polls is marred by massive violence by the ruling party. It is natural for the state BJP leaders to be irked over the 'Hate Khori' incident since for a long time they had been enjoying the regular Governor House-Secretariat spat during the tenure of Bose's predecessor. But I find their reactions to this programme a bit immature and an expression of anguish," Sarkar said. (IANS)

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