Siliguri/Kolkata, Sep 24 (IANS) Senior West Bengal government functionaries, including a minister, on Tuesday skipped a meeting called in Darjeeling district's Siliguri by state Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who said the lukewarm stand was a "cause of worry" as it did not fit with the culture of the state.
"The lukewarm stand of the state (government) is a cause of worry for me today, because I don't find it fitting into the culture of West Bengal. This can't be the kind of reception given to the Governor when he goes for the first time to a place called Siliguri," Dhankhar told the media in the north Bengal town.
Dhankhar, on his first visit outside Kolkata after taking charge as Governor, was slated to have an interaction with the Darjeeling District Magistrate, MP, MLAs of Darjeeling district, Mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Zila Sabhadhipati, Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.
But Tourism Minister Gautam Deb, Home Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and the Siliguri Commissioner of Police didn't turn up for the event. Dhankahar also said that the District Magistrate has gone on leave.
Dhankhar said that Deb and Bandopadhyay were supposed to be present, but "I imagine their absence must be on account of unavoidable state commitments, and I would try to connect with them at some other occasion. But had they been present, it would have been very beneficial."
A peeved Dhankhar further said, "I have seen virtual total absence of the state administration here. I do believe the District Magistrate must have gone on leave for a very proper reason. This can happen with all of us. On the police side also, the man in charge was nowhere to be seen.
"I would have been very happy if the state administration could have been a little more involved given that this is the first visit of the first servant of the state outside Kolkata... I am an executive head. I want respect. The respect is not for Jagdeep Dhankhar."
Dhankhar said he had indicated to the district administration that he wanted the Additional District Magistrate of Darjeeling to be present "so that he can take notes".
"That would help the public cause and our democracy to be vibrant. As Governor, I never wish to hold closed door meetings. So the state administration should have been there. I always give a long rope," he said after interacting with Siliguri Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya of the CPI-M, Congress MLA Shankar Malakar, and Darjeeling MP Raju Bista, among others.
"May be there was a good reason, may be next time it will be more productive. But if someone would have been there, the state authorities would also have noticed (the demands made in the representations)," the Governor said.
However, he described the meeting with the leaders and the elected representatives of political parties as "productive" and "very fruitful", saying, "I am glad they came and gave their representations and their comprehensive point of view for Siliguri."
To a query, the Governor said he felt "slightly worried" about the state.
"The state, with its enormous talent pool, dignified people and rich potential, should be at the top. And I am sure it will be at the top. It will have an incremental rise, the trajectory cannot be otherwise. It is only a matter of time," he said.
The Governor said that it was his duty to protect the Indian Constitution and serve the people of the state and iterated that he would have no hesitation in meeting the ordinary people.
"I am a copybook Governor. I am the first Governor of the state born after Independence. The gates of Raj Bhavan are open to the people who seek a meeting with me," he said.
Dhankhar, a noted lawyer and former Union Minster, made it clear that he would go to all the districts in the state, irrespective of who attends his meetings.
"And it does not matter to me which political party is having more representation there. It does not matter to me who comes to attend my meetings," the Governor said.
Dhankhar, whose recent visit to Jadavpur University to "rescue" Union Minister Babul Supriyo -- who was detained and manhandled on the campus -- led him to a collision course with the state government, said he was "not pro-active, but active".
"I will not be pro-active, I will be active. And being active is good enough. If I am not active, I will be inactive. Then you will write, 'the Governor is inactive'."
Dhankhar also said that he wouldn't make an issue of the absence of the government functionaries. "I have a consensual approach. I am not in a political circus. I have 'a hardcore' constitutional role."
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.