Bengal BJP in disarray as TMC wins all four Bypolls

KOLKATA: The BJP came a distant second,...

India’s Defense Export: A 14-Fold Leap in 7 Years

NEW DELHI: India’s defense exports have skyrocketed,...

Mahayuti Alliance shines in MLC Elections

NEW DELHI: The alliance emerged successful in...

Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose finds himself in a tight corner

Top 5Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose finds himself in a tight corner

KOLKATA: When C.V. Ananda Bose was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal on 23 November 2022, nobody would have imagined that less than two years later, he would be at the centre of unseemly controversies. According to observers, Bose is on the verge of losing his chair after a series of missteps and allegations that have landed Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose between a rock and a hard place. With the Trinamool Congress girded up for a fight and the BJP seemingly cold and indifferent amid charges of molestation, the Governor’s days could be numbered.

Bose, a retired IAS officer, however, began his tenure on a different note, taking over from Jagdeep Dhankhar, who demitted office to assume the Vice-Presidency of India. Dhankhar had given a hard time to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress party and was seen to be closely aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Dhankhar was known for his assertive and confrontational style, frequently clashing with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the state government. He often publicly criticized the state administration and questioned its decisions. His tenure was marked by high-profile disputes and media coverage, reflecting his active and vocal stance on various issues. This approach was polarizing, garnering both support and criticism.

Bose’s tenure began auspiciously, marked by a remarkable, though short, honeymoon with the Trinamool Congress and its supremo Mamata Banerjee. His effusive praise for the Chief Minister which included comparing her to Durga and putting her poems on the same pedestal as Rabindranath Tagore’s raised eyebrows but also underscored his desire to have a cordial relationship with the volatile leader.

The Bengali bhadrolok-class (genteel folk), tired of the daily skirmishes by his predecessor, also appreciated the new Governor, especially once it became known that he was named Bose by his father as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. His desire to learn Bengali was also met with appreciation.

The BJP, smarting from an electoral setback in the previous year’s Assembly elections, frowned at the bonhomie but could do little. However, the fairy-tale script unravelled soon after.

The first controversy was when he sacked his Principal Secretary Nandini Chakravarty, alleging that she was Mamata Banerjee’s plant and was leaking Raj Bhavan’s plans to the state government. He also felt that Chakravarty’s role and her decisions were misaligned with his own expectations and the Central government’s policies.

Soon after, the Governor’s frequent and public disagreements with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state officials heightened political tensions and gave the impression of a breakdown in communication and cooperation between the state and the Governor’s office.
Instances where he has been perceived to interfere in the administrative matters of the state, beyond the advisory role intended for a Governor, created controversies and bad blood and was seen as encroachments on the powers of the elected state government.
While the Trinamool Congress alleged the influence of the BJP in his actions, the BJP found its access to the Raj Bhavan reduced to a great degree.

“Dhankhar-ji was a straight-talking Governor who did not mince words. He was always willing to welcome BJP leaders and take on the Mamata Banerjee government. Our leaders like Suvendu Adhikari and Dilip Ghosh, who had enjoyed unfettered access to Dhankhar-ji’s Raj Bhavan, found that the new Governor had no time to meet them,” says Rahul Sinha, veteran BJP leader.

Some BJP leaders believe that Bose has not been assertive enough in addressing the actions of the state government led by Mamata Banerjee. They feel that he has not sufficiently countered or questioned policies and decisions that the BJP opposes.
“In a politically charged environment like West Bengal, the BJP might have strategic expectations from the Governor that they feel Bose has not met, especially in the run-up to the elections,” says Subhamoy Maitra, a political observer.

Bose’s penchant for literary flourishes in his conversations and statements have also distanced him from the common man.

“I have never seen anyone indulge in so much hyperbole. Nobody can make out what he says” a senior journalist told The Sunday Guardian.

Even well-intentioned efforts like opening of a Peace Room at Raj Bhavan in the aftermath of a violent panchayat elections have only succeeded in rubbing the state government the wrong way, say observers. “The Peace Room only gave him some media time. It served no productive purpose,” said a veteran bureaucrat who retired recently.

Senior bureaucrats feel Bose’s handling of crises, such as political unrest and administrative disputes, has been mixed. While some praise his attempts to mediate and resolve conflicts, others believe he has not been effective enough in addressing the state’s issues.

The Governor had disputes with the state government over appointments and administrative decisions in state universities. Criticism of the state government’s handling of law and order situations, especially during political rallies or protests, led to public disputes. Differences in opinions on policy implementation and governance have also been sources of conflict.

The state government publicly took on the Governor or started ignoring him. Senior bureaucrats, too, followed suit.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Ananda Bose, alleging that he wore a Bharatiya Janata Party logo while attending an event in Kolkata in January, indicating his support for the party in the Lok Sabha elections. The Trinamool Congress urged the poll panel to take “appropriate action” against the Bengal Governor and to restrain him from interfering with the electioneering process.

The final denouement was still to come, though.

It came when the Governor was accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked at the Raj Bhavan on a contractual basis. The woman said that Bose molested her on 24 April 2024, and again on 2 May 2024.

Bose denied the charges and said that they were politically motivated.

When state Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya criticised the Governor once the allegations surfaced, Bose struck back by banning her from coming to the Raj Bhavan. In retaliation, Trinamool leaders decided to boycott the Raj Bhavan.

An investigation into the allegations was started by the Kolkata Police, but Bose used his authority to try and stop the police from entering the Raj Bhavan.

Bose invoked his Constitutional immunity under Article 361 to stymie the probe by the state police.

The former Raj Bhavan staffer, who had filed a molestation complaint against Ananda Bose, moved Supreme Court on Wednesday, questioning how constitutional immunity granted to the Governor could curb her fundamental right to life. The case is likely to come up for hearing early next week.

The woman urged the apex court to direct the police to “carry out an investigation based on the sexual allegations raised by her”. She also sought protection and security for herself and her family and compensation for loss of reputation and dignity. She questioned the manner in which the Raj Bhavan branded her a “liar” and the Governor gave “his own self a clean chit”.

In her petition, the woman said she had been “rendered voiceless and shunned to a life of depravity and ridicule” and was under “extreme distress” and had “no urge to live a life with such a black mark on her character”. Arguing that while Article 361 gives a Governor immunity from criminal proceedings while discharging his duties, she questioned how could “sexual harassment and molestation form part of Governor’s duties”. She added that in such a case she would get no remedy and the only option for her would be “to wait for the accused to demit his office”, a delay that would be difficult to explain during trial, rendering the entire procedure a mere lip service, without any justice to her.

In an unprecedented move, Bose also filed a defamation suit against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. During an administrative meeting in the state secretariat on 27 June, Banerjee had said: “Women have informed me they are afraid to visit Raj Bhavan due to recent incidents reported there.”

Bose wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah asking for stringent action against Chief Secretary B.P. Gopalika and two senior IPS officers—city police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal and Indira Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police, central division—for carrying on the probe into allegations of molestation.

In two letters to Shah, dated 6 June and 20 June, Bose accused the officers of flouting provisions governing All India Services (AIS) officers.

The communications with Shah, a source in the Ministry said, was “unprecedented” as they contained detailed notes, along with examples, on how the officers had allegedly flouted AIS conduct rules by behaving as “willing accomplices in the misdeeds of the ruling dispensation, in violation of the laws of the land”.

Bose’s stature was diminished when two recently elected MLAs refused to go to the Raj Bhavan to take oath. After a prolonged standoff, the Speaker, Biman Banerjee, rubbed in the insult by convening a Special Session to administer the oath.

Though the Governor blinked first, and in a belated, late-night move, authorised the Deputy Speaker to stand in, it too was ignored.

The Speaker administered the oath even as the Governor cried foul and wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, stating that the Assembly Speaker administering oath to the two newly elected Trinamool Congress MLAs was a “violation of the Constitution”.

Bose’s letters, which did not have any perceptible impact, and the BJP’s studied silence, have triggered speculation over the possibility of his removal from Bengal.

- Advertisement -

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles