Bengal Guv greeted with 'locked' Assembly gate, lunch skipped by Speaker
A peeved West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday described as "most undemocratic" and called it a "shame" when he drove to the state Assembly for a pre-announced visit, but found the gate meant for his entry locked.
"If I have come to this gate, this is because this is the gate meant for my entry. I am surprised, as all of you should be, why it is closed?
"Assembly is not closed today. Assembly is not in session, that's ok... These are trends in democracy we need to curb. Democracy doesn't work in this fashion. These are not the qualities of democratic working," the Governor told a large posse of mediapersons outside the closed Gate No. 3.
Expressing his dismay over the gate being kept locked for "the Governor who under the constitution is at the number one position in the Legislature", despite his giving prior information about his planned visit, Dhankhar said: "This is a history which puts us to shame. This is most undemocratic.
"We need to engage in soul searching and I would urge everyone, we need to make amends," he said.
Dhankhar said he would write to Speaker Biman Banerjee that such turn of events should not have happened, as it was "not proper.. not in consonance with parliamentary practice... not befitting the office of the Governor. This is equally belittling the office of the Speaker."
After standing for some time before the locked Gate No 3, which is customarily opened when the state Governor visits the Assembly during his addresses to the House or other special occasions, Dhankhar walked into the Assembly through another gate.
The Governor's visit comes in the wake of Speaker's unprecedented action on Tuesday adjourning the House for two days saying Bills scheduled to be placed before the members were yet to get the green signal from Dhankhar.
In a hard-hitting response soon after the Speaker's announcement, the Raj Bhavan denied any delay and said the pending bills were on account of "lack of input or response" from the respective departments.
The Governor had then informed the Speaker that he would visit the Assembly on Thursday.
Giving the sequence of events in the run up to his visit, Dhankhar said after he sent a message to the Speaker informing him of his visit, the special secretary, Raj Bhavan, on Wedesday received a call on his mobile from the mobile phone of the secretary of the Assembly that Banerjee was 'very happy' to learn that he would be coming.
"And the secretary conveyed that the honourable Speaker would like to have lunch with me. And there was also an invitation that my wife should also join for the lunch," he said.
However, things changed after about one and a half hours.
After about one and a half hour, the secretary of the Assembly again called the special secretary Raj Bhavan, saying that this (lunch) will not happen. I was then in Calcutta University. And, something more was also told to him. That the Speaker has directed the Secretary and Special Secretary of the Assembly to be busy as well," said Dhankhar.
The governor, a noted lawyer, said Assembly not being in session does not mean that it is closed.
"The entire secretariat has to be open." Asked whether he felt insulted, Dhankhar said: "As Governor I don't have to feel insulted. I have to improve the system. My job is to play a constructive role."
Asked why there was a change of stance on the part of the Assembly Secretariat, Dhankar shot back: "Why you ask me? Your problem is you ask me questions, answers are somewhere else".
The Governor said if there was a direction issued to the secretary or special secretary not to be there, ask them, don't ask me".
Dhankhar said he always wanted the democratic institutions to act according to the law.
"I would persuade everyone to believe in rule of law. We have to work as two tyres of the vehicle of democracy. I am here not to find fault, but to ensure constitution is respected, regarded, we have a good approach for welfare of the people at large."
Recalling that he was the union minister of state for parliamentary affairs 30 years back, Dhankhar said: "I know if Parliament is not in session, it doesn't mean Parliament is closed. Not everyone can be on holiday because session is not there".IANS