Former Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy’s return to West Bengal politics has ruffled a lot of feathers in the state’s political circle. He will now have to give a missed call on the registered number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as part of formal request to become a member of BJP this month.
With this, Tathagata Roy will become one of the handful of leaders in the country who will make a comeback from constitutional post to active politics.
Roy’s return has become a hot political topic due to his loyalty to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and his command on the region.
Speaking to India Today, Tathagata Roy said, “I will be joining the party in a few days. I have to get in touch with my state party leaders. Get my name listed. For that, I believe it is now necessary to give a missed call.”
“Even the prime minister has done it, so I will quite naturally do it now. I’ll do whatever is necessary but the point is that I have to see them and give them some ideas of where I want to fit in,” he added.
“See I have not changed my fundamental stamp. I have all along stood as a faithful swamsevak of the RSS, which I think is my primary identity and beyond that, of course, I am a BJP worker. I have always been so and I have certain ideas with respect to public relations, not so much in respect of organisation because I have never been very good in organisation but my forte was public relations, literature and stuff like that,” Roy said.
“So, I would like to put forward my ideas regarding those to my leadership here and see how things go on from there.”
Several TMC leaders including Jyotipriyo Mullick took a dig at Roy after hearing about the development.
Mullick said, “It is shocking that leaders who become governors have political aspirations and then make a comeback like this or join politics. It is unheard of in history.”
Tathagata Roy hit back with equal intensity and criticised the TMC leaders who questioned him.
He said, “TMC is clutching at straws. TMC’s verticals are a different story altogether. You go to Basanti, you go to different areas of the Hoogly district, you will find the TMC people shedding the blood of one another. So, this is senseless. There is no sense in what they are saying and I don’t find any reason to react to that.”
“However, one thing that is significant is that a minister of theirs, Jyotipriyo Mallick has said that it is immoral for a former governor to get into politics. I don’t understand whether these people study anything or not. At least three people that I can offer names of have been governors and thereafter come into active politics,” Roy said.
“One was Arjun Singh from Madhya Pradesh. Arjun Singh was first governor and then Chief Minister. Then Sheila Dixit who tried to become chief minister but couldn’t. Another is Motilal Vora, who after becoming governor, I think became the treasurer of AICC,” he added.
“There are umpteen and there is nothing immoral about it. What is immoral? It is not forbidden in the Constitution, it is not forbidden anywhere else.”
Without naming West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Governor OP Ankhar said that they will not tolerate surveillance under any circumstances and those who have done so should be punished.
West Bengal Governor OP Dhankar has made a sensational charge. He has said that the Raj Bhavan is being monitored in Kolkata. He said that he has to say with a heavy heart that Raj Bhavan is on surveillance, he said how can this happen.
Governor OP Dhankhar said that he will not tolerate surveillance under any circumstances, and those who did so should be punished.
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OP Dhankhar said that a list related to surveillance has been prepared by Raj Bhavan which can be released after his permission. He said that he has started a serious investigation in this case so that the truth can be revealed. Without naming West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Governor OP Ankhar said that they will not tolerate surveillance under any circumstances and those who have done so should be punished.
All posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and even BJP leadership are now absent from the walls of Mukul Roy’s Delhi residence. Does this mean he may be finally returning to the TMC?
ce considered to be the right-hand man of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Mukul Roy had created ripples when he switched loyalties and joined the BJP in 2017.
Since his induction into the saffron party, Mukul Roy has been one of the key faces of the BJP in West Bengal and has ensured many of his former colleagues in the TMC join him in the BJP.
Mukul Roy, a former Union minister from the TMC, was mired in controversy when he was named in the Saradha scam. Many at the time alleged that the tightening clutches of investigating agencies triggered a switch from ‘Joda phool’ (TMC) to ‘Kamal phool'(BJP).
During 2019, Mukul Roy travelled expansively throughout West Bengal, using his acumen and resources on the ground against the TMC — an exercise that led to the BJP winning 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The performance of the BJP in West Bengal was a shock to even political pundits.
While Mukul Roy participated in every election meeting held by the party, he is yet to be made an official post holder apart from being a member of the BJP’s central committee.
Has this finally soured Mukul Roy’s ties with the BJP? Recent events suggest a possible shift from the BJP for Roy.
A source, on the condition of anonymity, told India Today TV, “TMC leaders have been in touch with Mukul Roy and visited him too. He has organizational skills and is not on best terms with the BJP…so there is a possibility of him considering a ghar wapasi.”
Mukul Roy left for Delhi this week with Sabyasachi Dutta, a TMC leader and former mayor of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation. Dutta was brought into the BJP by Mukul Roy.
But he returned to Kolkata soon after, even when the other state leadership is in Delhi for a series of meetings on the 2021 Bengal assembly elections.
Upon his return to Kolkata, Mukul Roy said he had returned for a pre-planned hospital appointment for an important treatment and that he was not informed about the number of days he had to stay in Delhi for party meetings.
Perhaps the most symbolic change, however, is the change of facade at his famous 181 South Avenue address in Delhi.
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All posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and even BJP leadership are now absent from the walls of Mukul Roy’s Delhi residence…and this absence reflects the presence of differences within.
24 Pargana : Body of youth Lavanya Haldar found hanging in TMC MLA JAYANT Naskar house
The body of a youth hanging from a noose was recovered from the house of Trinamool Congress MLA Jayant Naskar from Gosaba under South 24 Parganas district. His name is described as Lavanya Haldar. A suicide note has been recovered from the spot in which it has been reported that he is mentally stressed.
Police of Basanti police station said that in 2011, the young man’s parents were killed. He is originally from Pathankhali, Gosaba. The MLA sheltered her in her house after her parents were killed. He studied ITI and lived in Sonarpur. He returned to the MLA’s house 15 days ago. After this morning, the dead body was found hanging from the noose.
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The body has been sent for post-mortem to understand the real cause of death. Initially it is being speculated that he has committed suicide due to mental stress.
Mamta Banerjee on removal of Citizenship and Secularism from Syllabus
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday expressed surprise at the CBSE move in which CBSE has removed many topics like ‘citizenship’, ‘federalism’ and ‘bifurcation’ while reducing syllabus during Kovid-19 maha.
He appealed to the Ministry of Human Resource Development to not remove important subjects at any cost. Mamta Banerjee tweeted, “Surprised to know that the Central Government has removed citizenship, federalism, secularism and division to reduce the CBSE course during the Corona epidemic.” We strongly oppose this and appeal to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Government of India that these important subjects should not be removed at any cost. ”
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CBSE has reduced syllabus from class 9 to 12th by around 30 per cent for the 2020-21 season due to Kovid-19. The new syllabus for these classes has been notified on Wednesday.
Along with this, “The Chief Minister of West Bengal said that Ayushman targeted the Center regarding India. Mamta said that in Ayushman India they would give us 40 percent and take all the credit. Health partners are helping 100 percent people. “
TMC MLA Tamonash Ghosh was 60 years old. He was undergoing treatment for Kovid-19. He was devoted to the party for the last 35 years.
Kolkata : West Bengal Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) MLA Tamonash Ghosh died on Wednesday morning. Tamonash was found to be Corona positive last month. Since then, he was undergoing treatment in the hospital. Tamonash has also been the president of Bengal State Transport Corporation. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has mourned her death.
Mamta tweeted, writing, ‘This is very sad. Tamonaash Ghosh, a three-time MLA from Falta and treasurer of the party since 1998, is no longer in this world. He was with us for 35 years. He was always devoted to the party and the people. He contributed a lot to his social work.
In the second tweet, Mamta wrote, ‘It is not possible to fill their gap. His loss has caused irreparable damage. On behalf of all of us, I express condolences to his wife Jharana, his two daughters and their well wishers.
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According to the latest data of the Health Ministry , 580 people lost their lives in Bengal, so far 580 people have died due to Corona virus in West Bengal. A total of 14 thousand 728 people have been infected. 4930 of this is still being treated in the hospital. However 9218 has recovered and gone home
National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said the storm is “a double challenge” for the country amid fight against coronavirus.
New Delhi: Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years, pounded Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday, destroying thousands of houses, damaging buildings, uprooting trees, electricity poles and killing at 10 to 12 people in Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the impact of Amphan was worse than the coronavirus pandemic and claimed damages due to the cyclone could be in the region of Rs 1 lakh crore. The cyclone, whose eye was about 30 kilometre in diameter, made landfall with gusting winds of up to 185 kmph and waves about 15 feet tall. Over five lakh people had been taken to shelters in West Bengal and over one lakh in Odisha.
Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
Ms Banerjee, addressing a press conference in Kolkata, said three people have died in the state, but that the number may rise to about 12. She said North and South 24 Parganas districts were the worst hit and that Bengal “will have to rebuild everything”.
A man and a woman died in 24 North Parganas after trees fell on them due to the strong winds. In nearby Howrah district, a 13-year-old girl also died when a tree fell on her.
Around 5,500 houses were damaged in 24 North Parganas. “Five thousand and five hundred houses damaged, two persons dead and two severely injured in North 24 Parganas,” said a 7 pm report by Bibek Vasme, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Basirhat, news agency ANI reported. Power supply had been cut in both North and South 24 Parganas.
In Kolkata, howling winds – easily above 100 kmph – could be heard throughout Wednesday evening and many buildings were damaged. Parts of the city plunged into darkness with no electricity for most of the evening. The streets were waterlogged and trees uprooted.
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Videos on social media showed how parked cars bumped into each other at a south Kolkata highrise, trees ripped out of the ground, and a blast in an electrical transformer.
Amphan crossed the Bengal-Bangladesh coasts on Wednesday evening with the speed of 155-160 kmph gusting to 185 kmph across the Sunderbans, the Met department said.
Amphan had weakened from a super cyclone to an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” on Tuesday, causing strong winds and heavy rain in parts of Odisha and Bengal as it advanced towards the Indian coast.
National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said the storm is “a double challenge” for the country amid fight against coronavirus. “Forty-one teams of NDRF are on duty. Evacuating people is a double challenge. We have to ensure social distancing during these operations,” Mr Pradhan told NDTV.
In Kolkata, the airport has been shut till 5 am Thursday after the city, close to the coast, was put on alert. Visuals showed strong winds and winds battering coastal parts including Paradip in Odisha and South 24 Paraganas in Bengal. Seven districts in Bengal faced the direct impact of the cyclone.
“Amphan”, pronounced as “Um-pun”, means sky. The name was given by Thailand in 2004, years ago. The storm is being constantly tracked by Doppler Weather Radar at Vishakhapatnam.
Mamata Banerjee said the Centre was playing favourites with the states and was working according to a script.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fifth meeting with state Chief Ministers on coronavirus today took an unexpected turn as Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Centre of playing politics over the issue and discriminating between states.
The Centre was working according to a “script”, Ms Banerjee said. “This is not the time to play politics. Nobody ever asks our opinion… Don’t bulldoze the federal structure,” sources quoted her as saying at the meeting, called to discuss a phased exit from the lockdown, the migrants’ issue and the economic situation.
There has been a face-off between Bengal and the Centre over the coronavirus situation in the state, when in March, a team of Central officials visited the state following reports of lockdown violation and misreporting of coronavirus cases.
Mamata Banerjee had shot off a furious letter to PM Modi, alleging that she had not been formally informed about their visit.
She questioned why her state was chosen for the central teams’ assessment, defending the anti-coronavirus measures taken by her administration. Her leaders accused the Centre of “fighting some states” when they were busy fighting the virus.
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The team, which was expected to visit the hotspot districts, repeatedly alleged that they got no logistical support from the state — an allegation the state denied. I their final assessment, the team said the state was lacking in adequate testing, tracking and surveillance systems.
Last week, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan identified Bengal among the three states seen as potential hotspots of the disease and the Centre included it among the 10 states, where teams of health experts will be sent to help state governments contain the rapid spread of the infection.
Urging the Bengal government to extend the lockdown period till May 30, the association of imams said the decision should be taken in the interest of the state and that the celebrations can wait.
An association of imams in West Bengal has written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to extend the lockdown in the state till the end of May in the wake of increase in number of novel coronavirus.
In a letter to CM Mamata Banerjee, the Bengal Imams’ Association, a body of Islamic clerics in the state, wrote, “Let people survive first, festivities can wait.”
The imams urged the Bengal government not to lift the lockdown before Eid, which is on May 25.
Association’s chairman Md Yahya said the Bengal government has already announced the lockdown toll May 21 and may contemplate relaxing it keeping in mind that Eid-ul-Fitr is on May 25.
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“We request you to extend the lockdown at least till May 30. We have sacrificed a lot and we shall do so once again. We don’t need festivities,” the letter stated.
“We demand that the lockdown should not be relaxed before May 30 at any cost. Rather, you should raise the same demand before the central government. Muslim leadership shall firmly stand by your administration,” the letter further added.
The copy of the letter has been circulated to all Muslim religious leaders across the state, the West Bengal Wakf Board, Bengal chapter of the Jamat-e-Islami Hind and Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, West Bengal Hajj Committee and other Muslim organisations.
But it is in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s interests to play along.
In the Indian system, the governor of a state is supposed to be an apolitical figure who acts on the advice of the cabinet – which is legally “his” government. The system mirrors the United Kingdom’s Westminster system of government, where the monarch is supposed to be above politics, leaving elected politicians to do the actual politicking.
In West Bengal, however, this system has got inverted. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has been appointed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government, has not just opposed the Trinamool Congress Party-led West Bengal government vigorously. In a curious turn of events, he has done so rather publicly. In effect then, the governor has taken the place of the political opposition in the state, with the Trinamool government sparring much more with Raj Bhawan than with the BJP’s state unit or Comunist Party of India (Marxist).ADVERTISEMENT
As part of this public role, Dhankhar has commented on the flight of industry from West Bengal, criticised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, complained about the fact Kolkata’s La Martiniere schools had not appointed him to the governing board and, in an unprecedented move, even called an all-party meeting.
Exacerbated by Covid crisis
As bitter as the spat between Dhankhar and the government has been until now, the coronavirus lockdown has exacerbated it, with the BJP and Trinamool clashing hard over West Bengal’s handling of the crisis. As part of this friction, Dhankhar has accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “demagoguery”. In a furious exchange of letters with Banerjee, Dhankhar has described the Bengal government’s actions to contain Covid-19 as an “abject failure” and criticised what he saw as “explicit and awkward appeasement of the minority community”.
Dhankhar has also flagged the state’s low testing rate as well as accused the Mamata Banerjee government of abetting a “PDS [India’s public foodgrain distribution system] scam”.
Similar to his action calling for an all-party meet, Dhankhar has also attempted to play the role of an administrator. In his letter of April 20, Dhankhar writes that he had sought confirmation with the Union government about the number of testing kits Bengal had as well as the distribution of rations under Union government’s coronavirus relief scheme.
Reacting to this, Chief Minister Banerjee wrote to the governor on April 23, arguing that an unelected figurehead, he had no power to play a political role. “You appear to have forgotten that I am an elected chief minister of a proud Indian state,” Banerjee wrote. “You also seem to have forgotten that you are a nominated governor.”
Dhankhar dismissed this line of argument. “Your constant refrain of governor being ‘nominated’ is lamentable and can be ascribed to elementary ignorance of the Constitution,” Dhankhar wrote back the same day. The governor also dismissed the contention that he had no political role to play: “Governor is not expected to be in sleep mode when the state is facing a challenge.”
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The next day he reiterated the point on Twitter: “I cannot be fiddling in Raj Bhawan when people are stressed. I cannot turn ‘Nelson’s eye’ to issues being faced by the people in this crisis period.”
This public facing political role reached its apogee with a televised address on the Union government-run broadcaster Doordarshan on April 27, dubbed in Bengali.
This remarkable role of the governor as political opposition to the state government has meant even the media largely treats him less as a figurehead and more as a political player. Since he has taken office, Dhankhar has been interviewed with almost every major national newspaper, with exchanges conducted not as if he were the figurehead of the government but the head of an opposition party in West Bengal.
On April 23, for example, the Indian Express asked Dhankhar his views about whether he was “ satisfied with the state government’s efforts in combating COVID-19 spread”. On April 30, the Business Standard asked him for his thoughts on “lifting the lockdown”. Earlier on April 11, the Statesmen sought to query Dhankhar about whether he would “request the Centre to release more funds to the state government”.
While in theory, the governor is a figurehead, ever since the modern Indian governor was invented as part of the colonial British administration’s Government of India Act, 1935,the role has been that of the Centre’s representative in the states. This complex and undemocratic system was designed by the British given that in the last decade of the Raj, while the provinces had democratic governments with Indians in charge, the Centre was still completely in British hands. The governor allowed the British to retain at least some control over the provinces.
In 1950, when independent India adopted its new Constitution, the Congress retained this system in order to use its unassailable position in New Delhi to keep recalcitrant states in line.
The role of the governor in independent India has been a deeply political one. In 1954, for example, the Punjab government was dismissed simply because Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not very happy with the chief minister. In 1959, a pliable governor helped the Nehru government dismiss the Communist government of Kerala even as it was fighting the Congress electorally.
However, even by these standards, the role Dhankhar is playing is unprecedented. While earlier governors have sought to represent the interests of the Union government in the states, Dhankhar is outright playing the role of a popular politician with speeches, interviews and criticising the governor. In his role as chief critic of the Banerjee government, Dhankhar has overshadowed even senior leaders of the state BJP.
Bypassing state unit
Part of this might have to do with the centralised nature of the BJP. Right after the BJP’s big victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh expressed his unhappiness with how few ministerial berths Bengal had been given in spite of the fact that the saffron party had performed excellently in the state. Dhankhar allows the Modi government to play a direct role in West Bengal without depending on the state BJP.
Seen in this light, it is not surprising that Mamata Banerjee has sought to engage Dhankhar and even escalate rows. While Dhankhar might have unkind things to say about her administration, it is unclear how him taking up the opposition space can harm her when compared to the alternative: Dilip Ghosh or any other popular BJP leader leading the charge against her administration. No matter what Dhankhar says or that he styles himself as an opposition politician, at the end of the day he will not fight the 2021 Assembly elections.
The constant media focus on Dhankhar ensures that the BJP’s biggest challenge in Bengal – the lack of a face – remains a weakness.