Refrain from surpassing CM : Mamata to Dhankhar

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday wrote to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar saying he should keep himself within the mandate of the Constitution and expressed anguish over his letter to the states police chief on the law and order situation.

In a nine-page long letter, Banerjee said that the governor's "aspersions sadly consist of uncorroborated judgements and insinuations" against the police and the state government.

"As per Article 163, you are mandated to act as per the aid and advice of your Chief Minister and her Council of Ministers which is the essence of our democracy. I am thus writing to you to express my deep pain and anguish at the excessive and blatant attempt at (the) usurpation of constitutional mandates and unwarranted excesses on your part," she wrote.

"I was extremely upset, anguished and disillusioned on reading your captioned letter and the note addressed to the Director General of Police which was placed before me, as well as to see your Twitter post regarding the same," she said.

Dhankhar, who has been at loggerheads with the TMC government since he assumed office in July 2019, had written to DGP Virendra earlier this month expressing concern over the law and order situation in the state.

Following the DGP's two-line reply, Dhankhar asked the state police chief to meet him by September 26 for details of the "alarming decline in law and order" and steps required to tone it.

In her letter, Banerjee said the governor is an executive nominee of the president whereas "I am the elected representative of the people of West Bengal".

She referred to B R Ambedkar's elucidation of Article 167 of the Constitution in which he had said that the "Governor is like the 'British Crown' and thus has no right to interfere with the day to day administration of the state government".

She also alluded to Supreme Court judgements of 1973 and 2016 and said the governor is the formal head of the state and cannot have an overriding authority over the people's representatives who constitute the state legislature, or even the executive government functioning under the council of ministers with the chief minister as the head.

Banerjee said the governor's inquiry into the criminal investigations in connection with a particular accused in an incident and seeking reports regarding it from the DGP not only amounts to interference in the day to day administration of the state government, but also gives rise to serious suspicions of interference in and influencing the ongoing probe.

Banerjee said that Dhankhar, himself being a lawyer, "should not have entertained the accused and instead should have suggested that the accused follow the path of law and not seek extra-legal intervention in ongoing investigation of the complaints".

The chief minister, who is also the home minister of the state, took a dig at the Dhankhar's judgments on the current state of affairs of West Bengal.

She wrote, "Such unsubstantial statements without evidence are absolutely baseless and may cause unnecessary panic among the common people and cause of loss of life, for which law will hold you responsible.

"Rather than making sweeping statements casting serious aspersions upon the state government without providing any concrete material or evidence, it is your constitutional duty to furnish any and all such information you may have in your possession that would enable and aid the state police to prevent any such crime from being committed in our happy, peaceful and prosperous state."

"...I request, aid and advise you in the capacity of the Chief Minister of this state, to act within the mandates of the Constitution and refrain from acting on a political mandate, if any to destabilise a democratically elected government," she said.

"... refrain from surpassing the Chief Minister and her Council of Ministers and communicating with and dictating to State officials, in excess of your powers under the Constitution and directing them to attend before you...

"I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that we are bound to act within the four corners of our Constitutional mandates and the rule of law, This is necessary to preserve democracy and the collective will of people of West Bengal," she added.

Dhankhar soon after receiving the communication from Banerjee took to his Twitter handle and said that instead of DGP Virendra appearing before him despite being summoned for the third time, the chief minister has replied on his "behalf".

"DGP @WBPolice did not appear as requested-third time in a row- cant be overlooked. DGP does not want to explain affairs, CM writes instead, on his behalf. Is this what constitutionalism envisages? Is CM being rightfully counselled? Would respond to CM," he tweeted.

Later posting his communication with the DGP, Dhankhar tweeted yet again. "As communication @MamataOfficial has found way in public domain I seek media to focus on my eye opener note @WBPolice. Significantly, unlike her earlier physical stance in support of cop, this time defence is by way of letter.

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