Assembly adjournment: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ups ante against Governor

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on December 04, 2019

West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee (File photo)   -  Debasish Bhaduri

The West Bengal Assembly has been adjourned for two days as Bills have been pending with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar

The West Bengal Assembly has been adjourned for two days—Wednesday and Thursday—with the State government blaming the Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar, for delaying the clearance of important Bills. The Governor, on his part, has hit back strongly saying he was “neither a rubber stamp nor a post office”.

This adjournment of the Assembly is the first in recent memory and also marks a new low in Dhankhar’s already frosty relationship with the Mamata Banerjee-led State government.

At least six bills are said to be awaiting assent, State government sources said, adding that the Assembly would resume business on Friday.

“As Governor I follow the script and tune of the Constitution and cannot blindly take a call. I am neither a rubber-stamp nor a post office. I am obligated to scrutinise the bills in the light of the Constitution and act without delay. Concerned at delay by government on this,” he Tweeted in a late evening post on Tuesday.

Two-day adjournment

On Tuesday, West Bengal Legislative Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee adjourned the House for two days saying he was forced to do so as a key bill scheduled to be presented was yet to get the requisite nod.

“A cabinet minister has sent an important Bill for printing, but we can’t place it, as it is yet to get the nod. The House will resume on December 6. It will remain adjourned tomorrow (Wednesday) and day after,” the Speaker was quoted as saying by different media outlets in Bengal.

This immediately resulted in a war of words with Trinamool Congress leaders criticising the Governor and his “ulterior motives”.

According to State government sources, the six Bills awaiting assent are: ‘The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019’; ‘The West Bengal State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2019’; ‘West Bengal Lifts, Escalators and Travelators Bill, 2019’; ‘West Bengal Municipal (Amendment) Bill 2019’; ‘West Bengal Apartment Ownership (Amendment) Bill, 2019’ and ‘The Hindi University, West Bengal, Bill 2019’.

Rebuttal from Raj Bhavan

However, the Raj Bhavan issued a strong rebuttal on Tuesday evening. “There has been no delay in handling the legislative work in the Raj Bhavan. Highest priority is accorded. However, all issues are thoroughly gone into after due briefing from the Department,” the Raj Bhavan statement said, adding that the delayed response is actually by the State government and officials of different departments. “The delay is occasioned due to response not forthcoming from the Government,” it added.

Frosty Relationship

Governor Dhankhar’s relationship with the Mamata Banerjee-led State government has been frosty, to say the least. The first major flashpoint was when the Governor rushed to Jadavpur University to “rescue” Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who was stuck in the midst of campus protests. This made the Trinamool Congress see red and accuse Dhankar of “working for the BJP”.

Then came a war of words over how the Governor was overstepping his “Constitution brief” by holding administrative meetings and across different districts.

Dhankhar, too, has been vocal on how he has been repeatedly snubbed by the State government. The relationship soured further after Dhankhar’s request for a helicopter to travel to some districts was rejected.

On Constitution Day, the Governor stated in his speech that the post of the constitutional head of the state had been “seriously compromised”.

“This is an unprecedented and challenging situation.... The sequence of events that have taken place bear it out. Such an outrage is unprecedented. I am sure in your deliberations you all will have the occasion to reflect on this and engage in soul searching," he said.

Published on December 04, 2019

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