Centre distributing COVID vaccines rationally, Bengal govt should avoid confrontation: Governor

By PTI
KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday stirred fresh 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 Adhikary, Dhankhar and BJP MP Debasree Chaudhuri were present in the meeting.

The chief minister said she had skipped the meeting because “a BJP MLA has no locus to be present in a PM-CM meeting”.

Adhikari has defeated Banerjee in Nandigram seat in the recent assembly elections.

In a letter to the prime minister on Monday, Banerjee 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.”

Banerjee had also mentioned in the letter that she had no objection to the presence of the governor and other Union ministers in the meeting.

Reacting to Dhankhar’s tweet, senior TMC leader and Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy said, “The governor has no right to say such things. The CM is working round the clock for the interest of the state. She knows what to do.”

Senior TMC leader and state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya had on Monday claimed that the chief minister had to wait for 30 minutes to meet the prime minister on May 28.

“After she met him, Banerjee submitted details about the damages caused by cyclone Yaas and then sought his permission to leave for a pre-scheduled programme in Purba Medinipur district,” Bhattacharya had said.

However, 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.

Later on May 28, the Union government sent a letter to Bandopadhyay recalling him for central deputation.

Banerjee strongly protested, 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.

Banerjee sent a letter to the prime minister over the issue on Monday and appointed Bandopadhyay as her chief adviser for three years, after allowing him to retire.