Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday said he is "hurt" as no senior state government representative attended the unveiling of a portrait of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 95th birth anniversary at the Raj Bhavan here.
The idea to unveil a three-dimensional portrait of the late prime minister was conceived on November 27 and an invitation letter for the programme was sent to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on that day, he told reporters here.
"The CM is the executive head and I have not said she has to unveil (the portrait). She may have many other engagements and I have the highest respects for her. My grievance is not that she could not come, but lack of representation by the government and bureaucracy has hurt me," the governor said.
Asserting that there must be respect for people who hold constitutional positions, Dhankhar, who has had several face offs with the TMC government, said, "Unfortunately there is a very disturbing trend... There seems to be no representation from the state ... This should not happen to a person who served the country with such distinction."
Vajpayee, he said, was known for his eloquence and had no enemies in the political parties.
The governor said he could have contacted "anyone in the country to unveil the portrait of Vajpayeeji and you (media) know it more than I do that anyone will be happy and gratified to do this as it will be an honour. I thought the Hon'ble CM was eminently most suitable to do the act at the Raj Bhavan".
Dhankhar said West Bengal speaker and the chief secretary were also invited but none from the state government's side turned up.
"As the constitutional head, I cannot sit tight if someone is not responding. I would continue to work in the direction in humility, discharge my duty and try to connect with her," he said. Present-day politicians should know about Vajpayee's qualities, he added.
"You can't disagree with a person by looking at him as an enemy. You need not agree on every point of view but that does not make you enemies. Disagree with grace," he said without taking anyone names.
Dhankhar faced protestors who shouted slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act, waved black flags and blocked his way on Tuesday from entering Jadavpur University, where he had gone to attend the annual convocation as its chancellor. This had prompted him to denounce the incident as "total collapse of rule of law".
Earlier this month, the governor was made to wait outside the Assembly as the gate designated for his entry was locked and the Speaker and staff were nowhere to be found. He later entered the assembly premises through the gate meant for media persons and officials.
"My purpose is to move forward. On December 5, the assembly gates were locked, I don't remember. What I remember is the date of December 17, when it was opened and I went to the historical assembly building. If something is happening with respect to the varsities, I can't look back again. My purpose is how to put it back on track, how to see the machinery moves in right direction," he said.
The governor further said, "We can't look back, we have to look ahead. We both (he and CM) are required to serve the people of West Bengal," he said.
Elaborating his plans to have a corner of Bharat Ratna recipients at the Raj Bhavan in future, he said, "Things will be done decorously. We at the Raj Bhavan don't create controversies."
Asked for his comments, West Bengal Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said, "There is no need to attach much importance to his utterances."
"He has now become a laughing stock before people of the state," Hakim, a senior leader of the TMC told reporters.