Austere West Bengal buys governor his BMW


Its precarious finances notwithstanding, the West Bengal government has given in to the demand of Governor M K Narayanan and allowed Raj Bhavan to buy a Rs 45 lakh BMW 5 series car for his use. The luxury car, which arrived about a week back, was seen transporting Narayanan to Gandhighat in Barrackpore and Mayo road on Tuesday as he paid homage to Gandhi on his birth anniversary.

The BMW replaces the old Toyota Camry that had been allotted to the governor, officials said. The proposal to acquire the BMW was sent by the governor's secretariat to the state home department, which is the nodal department that deals with matters relating to the Raj Bhavan. The home department sent the file to the state finance department and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was also informed as the proposal was seen as a bit unusual.

The state government earlier allowed only Ambassadors to be bought for official use and the rule was modified to accommodate Marutis. Over the years, some flexibility has been allowed as in the case of Narayanan. Sources said there were objections from some officials to Narayanan's choice considering the financial crunch in the state but Banerjee herself intervened and approved the BMW. The chief minister, incidentally, uses a Hyundai i-10 hatchback when in Kolkata.

A former IPS officer and national security adviser, Narayanan's relationship with the state government has been through its ups and downs. He has lobbied with Delhi for a special economic package to help West Bengal overcome its deep financial stress. But of late, he is said to be unhappy with the state government's delayed responses to issues related to the Raj Bhavan.

Narayanan recently suggested to the state government that matters relating to the Raj Bhavan be dealt directly by the finance department instead of being routed through the home department. But the state government did not agree to the proposal. Top state officials said the government would prefer to have checks and balances on the governor instead of giving him a free run.

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