Regretting that "distrust between different political entities and personalities and also within institutions such as our universities is disfiguring life in our State," West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi called on Sunday for a change in "our conditioned mindsets" to rectify such a situation.
The State "will suffer irretrievable damage" unless "all inter-party, inter-cadre or inter-supporter violence is halted," he said in a message on his last day in office. "All political organisations must together bring West Bengal out of the debris of 'bhangchur' (destruction), bandhs and 'bomabaji' (exchange of bombs). No party should countenance the use of unauthorised arms. All provocations, in word and deed, across the political spectrum [should] cease," Mr. Gandhi said at the end of his five-year term. He leaves the city on Monday.
Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar has been appointed by President Pratibha Patil to discharge the functions of Governor from Monday, besides his own duties, until regular arrangements are made.
For a Governor who has, on occasion, courted controversy for his observations, his "experience of life would have been one-sided, had my tenure not received the dart of criticism from personalities in our public life," Mr. Gandhi confessed.
"I shall assume that I have deserved such criticism. But I would like to say that I bear no resentment whatsoever about it."
"The choice before West Bengal should not be between the wrong-doing of one and the counter wrong-doing of another. The choice should not be between the vengeance of one and the return vendetta of another. The choice has to be between chaos and civility, disorder and decorum," he said.
As for the Maoist menace in parts of the State, Mr. Gandhi urged all political organisations to view the crisis "through non-political lenses"
Touching upon the developments in the Darjeeling Hills, he said: "The tripartite talks opened by the governments offer the best road map, and it is my earnest hope that they will lead to a satisfactory resolution."
"I have been quite happy with you," Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu told Mr. Gandhi when he called on him at his Salt Lake residence earlier in the day.
Emerging from Mr Basu's residence, Mr. Gandhi told journalists that he had gone there to "take his leave before I return on completion of my tenure." "I count myself extremely fortunate for having been able to do so.It's a great pleasure for me to have had the benefit of his presence and guidance over so many matters over these years [since 1992 when they first met], and particularly in the last five years in West Bengal."
In the afternoon, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was among those invited by the Governor to the Raj Bhavan for a farewell tea-party, called on Mr. Gandhi. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee visited him later.
Referring to the two personalities, Mr. Gandhi, in his message, asked: "In how many places can one find a bibliophile Chief Minister who also writes poetry with sensitivity, an Opposition leader who sings and paints with feeling?"
Mr. Gandhi's tenure spanned a rather tumultuous phase in the State's political history, marred by the violence in Nandigram that continued through much of 2007, the debate over land acquisition that morphed into a movement leading to the shifting of Tata Motors' small car project from Singur in October 2008 and the inter-party clashes after the April-May Lok Sabha elections.