West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday stuck to convention in delivering the speech provided by the State’s Trinamool Congress government and included remarks critical of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the National Population Register (NPR) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
While the Governor had earlier hinted that he might omit or add certain portions , he ended up reading the 25-page speech prepared by the State government, without making any alterations to it. Later, Mr. Dhankhar tweeted that his speech was “in the high traditions of (the) Constitution” and expressed the hope that “all will pay due obeisance to the Constitution”.
“This is the only way to serve the people and enhance democratic values. I urge those in authority to desist from methodology not sanctified by Constitution,” the Governor posted on his Twitter account.
Earlier, addressing members of the State’s Assembly Mr. Dhankhar not only “mourned the tragic end of those brave sons of India who lost their lives during protests against the CAA in different parts of the country” but also added that the State government “is strongly against division of people in the name of steps like NPR or NRC or CAA”. The Governor also referred to the resolution passed by the West Bengal Assembly against the NRC on September 6, 2019, and the January 27 resolution urging repeal of the CAA.
There was widespread speculation in political circles on whether the Governor would read the speech prepared by the State government or make any changes to it.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Legislature party held a meeting ahead of the Governor’s address. A number of members of the Treasury benches came to the House on Friday wearing head bands bearing slogans protesting the CAA, NPR and NRC. They also wore posters with the preamble of the Constitution written on them. There was no disruption in the House when the Governor read the speech for almost an hour. After finishing his speech the Governor had tea with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the office of the Speaker of the Assembly Biman Banerjee. Later in the evening Mr. Dhankhar summoned the State’s Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, where a discussion was likely on the State Budget scheduled to be presented on February 10.
“There is a general air of intolerance, bigotry and hatred that is straining the variegated thread of unity tying together all the linguistic, religious and ethnic diversities of the country,” Mr. Dhankhar said in his speech, adding that the need of the “moment is a deep introspection and re-dedication to the guiding principles enshrined in our Constitution”.
The State’s Congress party-led Opposition, however, described the development as an understanding between the TMC government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre.
“There is nothing in the Governor’s speech which is critical of the Centre,” Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan, told journalists. “It is a got up game between the State and Centre,” he added.