Controversy erupts over Mamata's oath taking ceremony
Kolkata, Oct 4 (IANS) A fresh controversy has erupted over the oath taking ceremony of three West Bengal MLAs, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee, saying the 'practice and proceedings at the level of the Assembly and the government have apparently emanated from misconception of law', leaving it to speculation as to whether the Governor would go to the Assembly for the oath taking ceremony as requested by the state government.
Banerjee has expressed her desire to take oath in the Assembly on October 7.
On October 1, the Speaker wrote to the Governor asking him to come to the Assembly for the oath taking ceremony of the newly-elected members of the House. The Speaker, who generally conducts the oath taking of the members of the Assembly, had to write to the Governor because Dhankhar had withdrawn Biman Banerjee's power to administer the oath of office to the members of the state legislature in the middle of September.
The power was granted to the Speaker by the Governor to administer the oath of office to the new MLAs under Article 188 of the Constitution. Officials said that this is the first time that a Governor has withdrawn the delegated power to the Speaker, thus escalating tension. However, the Speaker refused to comment on the issue.
State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said, "We have requested the Governor to come down to the Vidhan Sabha on October 7 before noon for the swearing-in of the CM and two other MLAs. We want the swearing-in to be held at Vidhan Sabha, so we had sent the request to the Governor. Hope the Governor will come to the Assembly."
Dhankhar in reply to the Speaker wrote, "A note had been sent on October 1 wherein I had been requested to make the Speaker of the state Assembly be appointed by the Governor under Article 188 of the Constitution to administer oath/affirmation to the newly-elected MLAs.
"The practice and proceedings at the level of the Assembly and the government have apparently emanated from misconception of law. Once in terms of the legal regime applicable, the result of the by-elections is gazetted, the matter would through appropriate channels be brought to my notice where a call as deemed appropriate under Art 188 of the Constitution would be taken."
"In this premise, as and when issuance of the gazette notification by the applicable legal regime is affected, a call will be taken as afore-stated," he added.
Dhankhar's response to the Speaker's letter has triggered a controversy, putting the oath taking of the Chief Minister in jeopardy.
Biman Banerjee has made it clear that it is a protocol that the swearing-in of an MLA should be held in the Assembly. But he said that the Governor might want to do it in the Raj Bhavan.
The strained relationship between Dhankhar and Biman Banerjee is known, and this incident has added a new twist to it.
The equation between the Raj Bhavan and the state Assembly has not been smooth for some time now. In June during a Speakers' conference, Biman Banerjee had complained to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla about the role of the Governor in overstepping his jurisdiction.
However, the Governor came down to the Assembly on July 2 to read out the inaugural speech of the first session of the House after the 2021 Assembly polls. Later, the Governor wrote to the Speaker, "I addressed the Assembly on February 7, 2020 and July 2, 2021. On both occasions, in an emergency kind of situation the address was blacked out."