West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday exchanged veiled barbs before a global audience at the 6th Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS). The audience at the summit included members of the Indian industry, delegates, and diplomats from 19 countries and the event was organised to showcase the State as a global investment destination.
The Governor in his half an hour speech made suggestions like catalyse “development bonhomie” and “distance development from partisan stance” while the Chief Minister was more direct in telling the Governor that he should tell the Centre at Governor’s conference that “industrialists should not be disturbed through some agency”.
“It will be appropriate for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to proactively catalyse development bonhomie with all concerned as it is imperative to distance development from partisan stance. A greater reflection of the political spectrum of the State in participation in such ventures would surely be motivationally wholesome,” the Governor said.
During his address, Mr. Dhankhar quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions and emphasised the “look east and act east” policy of the Central government, and suggested that the State should be part of the nation’s growth story. “West Bengal must work to be a significant part of the ongoing script of India’s economic rise by credibly exemplifying its commitment to transparent accountable decision making that is pivoted on systemic and not individualistic functioning,” he said.
Another issue raised by the Governor which raised many eyebrows was on highlighting the rule of law. “I am sure [that the] Government is alive to the need of investment-friendly wholesome ecosystem in governance as investors invariably look for political stability, democratic governance, transparent, accountable mechanism and systemic working, coupled with peaceful environment and rule of law,” Mr. Dhankhar added.
In the past differences between the Governor and Chief Minister have often spilled over in the public domain but the two highest office bearers of the State sounding a different tune at a business summit was not expected.
The development evoked strong reaction from the political circles.
The BJP leadership felt there was nothing wrong in the remarks made by Governor at the event and party’s State president Sukanta Majumdar said that Chief Minister’s remarks towards Governor were in a poor taste. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that development had sent “ wrong signals” among the business community that there are differences and ego clashes between the Chief Minister and the Governor.
Senior CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said that instead of asking the Governor that “agencies should not target industrialist” the Chief Minister could directly take her request to the Prime Minister, whom she has met several times in the past. Mr. Chakraborty said Chief Minister is well aware that nobody is going to invest in the State and thus by raising the bogey of “agencies” she is looking for an escape route.