The protracted standoff between Mamata Banerjee and Jagdeep Dhankhar continues as the West Bengal chief minister told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that the governor kept asking about “transparency” in recruitments made by the state government.
While delivering a fiery note in the presence of PM Modi during the virtual inauguration of the second campus of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) at New Town in Kolkata, Mamata said, “Governor sent me letters and questioned how we made some recruitments. He does not even know that it was done on the basis of the PM’s advice to hire people from outside.”
She also told the Prime Minister that the project he was supposed to unveil was actually inaugurated by the state government and used as a safe home during the second wave of Covid-19 in Bengal last year.
Governor Dhankhar, who went to Jaipur on Friday, was quick to respond and countered Mamata Banerjee’s claim with tweets.
The state BJP too criticised the chief minister’s statement before the Prime Minister.
“This is the first time that a chief minister of a state has said something like this to the Prime Minister at a public programme,” BJP Bengal president Sukanta Majumder said.
Trying to substantiate his assertion, the governor, who is the Centre’s representative in the state, also attached with the tweets copies of a few letters that he had sent to the West Bengal government over various appointments.
In one such letter dated December 28, 2021, the governor wrote, “This refers to the notifications relating to the engagement of Senior Consultants/Consultants published by the Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms on November 26, 2021. Serious issues have been raised from several quarters regarding this matter in respect of the lack of transparency, accountability and modalities of the selection process of these consultants. Already recruitment in some categories is under judicial scanner. The mechanism provided in the said notifications is opaque and disregards judicial pronouncements. There is widespread apprehension that by such a mechanism administration is sought to be packed by ‘patronage appointees’. There are some alarmingly disturbing inputs that need not be indicated for the moment.”
In another letter to the state government on April 19, he mentioned, “It appears that a number of Civil servants belonging to the various All India Services such as IAS, IPS and IFS have been appointed after superannuation in various posts which are neither as per any constitutional mandate nor as per any statutory provisions of law, but are rather in the realm of administrative or executive functions. Since each and every executive function of the State is discharged by a formal structure of the state, namely the concerned administrative department of the state government, the rationale and necessity of creating such posts as well as the public services performed by such superannuated re-employed all India Service officers is not very clear.”
Dhankhar has had an acrimonious relationship with the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal since taking over as governor in July 2019 with both sides sparing no chance to attack each other.
In his third and fourth letters dated June 10 and June 23, 2021, the governor had mentioned, “Several persons including retired officials, are presently in employment of the State Government as OSDs in a particular rank with pay and allowances. Concern has been raised in well-meaning quarters about lack of transparency and accountability in effecting recruitment to service in the State both of permanent, temporary and Ad Hoc nature.”
In all the letters, the governor asked the state chief secretary to respond within a week but he claimed that no satisfactory reply has come from the West Bengal government so far.