Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday described as "unconstitutional" and alleged censorship after his two proposed meetings in the Sundarbans failed to take off with the district administrations refusing to send the invites and informing him instead that permission of the state government was required for such "action".
As earlier announced by Raj Bhavan, Dhankhar first went to Dhamakhali, about 75 km from Kolkata in 24 Parganas North District, and then proceeded to 24 Parganas South district's Sajnekhali, but found the district magistrates and senior police officers absent. Public representatives belonging to the ruling Trinamool Congress were also absent.
An angry Governor said at Dhamakhali that he had notified the district administration on October 17 about his intended visit and directed that invites be sent out to those he wanted to participate in the interaction.
"But on October 21, I received a reply from the district magistrate that permission of the West Bengal government is required for the undersigned (district magistrate) to request the invitees to attend the interactive session," he said, reading from the letter.
"All necessary action will be taken as desired from this end after the receipt of the said permission from the state," the letter said.
Calling it "unconstitutional", the Governor said he was the constitutional head of the state and not "subordinate to the state government".
"Please check; is it an appropriate step to be taken that when the governor of a state wants to meet someone, there has to be censorsip, there has to be approval? There has to be permission from the state government?
"If I am making a visit, they should have given an invite. They have not done it. I find it odd, I find it absolutely unconstitutional," he said.
He also took exception to the DM's contention that "all senior government functionaries were in north Bengal for an administrative review meeting of the Chief Minister," the letter said.
"Honourable Chief Minister has gone to North Bengal, that's fine. But the government doesn't go on a holiday?" Dhankhar said.
There was a virtual replay at Sajnekhali - around 97km from Kolkata. The DM had given a letter to Raj Bhavan on identical lines as his 24 Parganas North counterpart.
Only the additional Director General and Inspector General of BSF were present at both the meetings.
The Governor exploded against the state government again at Sajnekhali, calling the treatment meted out to him as "shame for democracy" and said the cultured people of Bengal will find it very difficult to swallow.
"This should not have happened. Is it a prestige point that a governor will not be received by a district magistrate? What big point are they scoring? I am surprised. But I have no answer to this. The answer has to come from somewhere else.
"Whereever I go in West Bengal, I feel the district magistrate and police higher-ups may be thinking it is beneath their dignity to attend to the governor... And that is why neither the district magistrate nor a higher police officer was present at Siliguri, Dhamakhali or Sajnekhali," he said.
However, Trinamool MLA of Gosaba, Jayanta Naskar, said he couldn't go as there was no invitation. "I have seen so many governors. Why he is holding such administrative meetings, only he can say".
Pratima Mondal, MP, Joynagar, spoke on similar lines. "We did not get any formal invite. So how can a public representative go to such a meeting called by the governor? Only he can answer whether it is proper for a governor to hold administrative meetings."
Jayanta Naskar, Trinamool MLA, Gosaba: I don't know with whom he is holding meetings. But we didn't receive any invite".
The development came a month after the Governor had a similar experience in Siliguri of Darjeeling district in northern Bengal where he had also convened a meeting of public representatives and senior officials.