Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made an unscheduled visit to Raj Bhavan Saturday — her first since the Covid-19 lockdown began in March — but skipped the traditional ‘At Home’ ceremony hosted by the governor on Independence Day, which was held later in the evening.
Speaking to the media after the visit, Banerjee said it was a “courtesy call”, adding that she wouldn’t be able to attend the ‘At Home’ ceremony. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar later told ThePrint that the chief minister’s absence at the traditional programme was not “in sync with Bengal’s rich heritage”.
The relationship between Nabanna, the state secretariat, and the Raj Bhavan has been tense since the BJP came to power at the Centre, and the trend has continued since Dhankhar was sworn in July 2019.
Banerjee and Dhankhar last met at Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district in May, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the area for a review in the wake of cyclone Amphan.
‘Always welcome at Raj Bhavan’
Chief Minister Banerjee reached Raj Bhavan after attending the Independence Day event at Kolkata’s Red Road. She was accompanied by four senior officials — Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, Home Secretary Alapan Banerjee, Director General of Police Virendra, and Kolkata Police commissioner Anuj Sharma.
After a brief meeting with Dhankhar, she told the media, “We will not be able to attend the high tea programme in the evening at Raj Bhavan today. So, I, along with four top bureaucrats, met Governor Dhankhar. I came without an appointment. It was a courtesy meeting. We had a good adda (informal chat) with the governor.”
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Dhankhar wasn’t pleased about Banerjee’s decision to skip the event. “A traditional ‘At Home’ programme was organised at Raj Bhavan, maintaining all social-distancing norms. There were not more than 35 eminent guests. It would have been befitting for the chief minister and senior officials of the state to participate in this occasion,” he said.
“However, they chose to not attend the traditional programme. This action is not in sync with the rich heritage of West Bengal and sanctity of the occasion… Their absence on this occasion has left a void,” he added, saying guests included senior judges and top personnel of the military.
He said the chief minister’s visit was “unscheduled” but she is always “welcome at Raj Bhavan”.
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