CM says no to meeting between Tripura Governor and officials, sparks row

Agartala, Jan 3 : A head of the assembly elections in Tripura, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s direction to top state officials not to meet the governor has sparked a controversy, with political circles terming the issue a “constitutional crisis”.

A section of the local media on Tuesday and Wednesday reported that Sarkar had asked the Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and Director General of Police (DGP) Akhil Kumar Shukla not to heed Governor Tathagata Roy’s direction for a meeting with them.

The Governor and Chief Minister’s secretariats remained silent on the issue while ruling and opposition parties accused each other and the Governor.

BJP legislator Ratan Lal Nath, a former senior Congress leader, said that “a constitutional crisis” had emerged after the Chief Minister barred the top officials from meeting the constitutional head of the state.

When contacted, Governor Roy, without denying the local newspaper reports, told IANS over phone: “I would not make any comment on the issue at this moment.”

The Chief Minister’s information officer Dibyendu Sekhar Datta said that Sarkar would not react on the matter as of now.

Sunil Deodhar, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) National Executive member and the party’s observer for Tripura, said in a statement: “The Governor recently wanted them (Chief Secretary and DGP) to meet with him whereas Chief Minister personally prohibited them. So far, this is a rare instance in Tripura. The Governor has taken up the issue with the Union Home Ministry.”

“The Chief Minister met the Governor on December 29 and discussed the current situation of the state… answers of the Chief Minister failed to satisfy the Governor. Thereafter, the Governor desired that the Chief Secretary and DGP meet him.

“The Chief Minister barred the officers from going to the Governor’s House. This sudden development created an uproar in the administrative and political circles of the state,” Deodhar said in his statement.

The Left Front government has never been comfortable with Roy, he said, adding that Sarkar was frustrated at the rise of the BJP in the state and was hence resorting to such steps.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) criticised the Governor over the issue.

“The Governor (must) act on the advice of the council of ministers. He can call the Chief Minister or a minister and discuss any matter. He cannot call officials,” CPI-M Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar told the media.

The opposition Congress also echoed the views of the CPI-M and censured the Governor.

“According to the Constitution, the Governor (can) only act on the recommendation of the state council of ministers. He can discuss any issue with the Chief Minister or any minister but the Governor cannot call officials,” Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice-President Tapas Dey told the reporters.

The Congress leader said that Roy had forgotten his Constitutional obligation and was playing “politics in Tripura”. “He turned the Raj Bhavan (into an) RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) office,” Dey alleged.

Civil Engineer-turned-politician, Roy, a former member of the BJP National Executive and a state president in West Bengal (from 2002 to 2006), took charge as the 16th governor of Left-ruled Tripura on May 20, 2015.