The exchange of words between West Bengal Governor M. K. Narayanan and the State’s Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee continued here on Friday with both of them standing by their recent remarks which stirred a controversy over the past two days.
Taking a dig at Mr. Mukherjee who had said on Thursday that that the government is “keeping an eye” on the Governor for his unfavourable remarks on the recent violence in the Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas district, Mr. Narayanan said: “I am glad that I am safe.”
“I said what I said as a Governor. There is no conflict of interest. I am not aspiring to be an elected member,” Mr. Narayanan told journalists on the sidelines of a function in the city.
Mr. Narayanan’s wit did not spare the journalists either. When asked about his remarks being construed as political he said, “either you are mischievous or you are too fastidious or being too clever by three quarters.”
On his part, Mr. Mukherjee remained firm. When asked if he stood by what he had said on Thursday, Mr. Mukherjee said, “absolutely…of course.”
“I stand by what I had said a hundred percent,” he said.
However, there were signs that the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was not quite happy with Mr. Mukherjee for his outburst. Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee met Mr. Narayanan at Raj Bhavan during the day.
It was learnt that in a move apparently to censure Mr. Mukherjee, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided that only Mr. Chatterjee and the State’s Minister for Urban Development Firhad Hakim will be the designated spokespersons for the government.
The verbal duel between Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Mukherjee started on Thursday, a day after the Governor described the violence in Bhangar as “distressing and disturbing” and nothing but “goondaism.” Mr. Mukherjee questioned the propriety of Mr. Narayanan’s remarks cautioning him that a red card would follow the yellow card that has been shown to him.