Two very assertive governors, one emotional, one clinical

National

Recent comments by West Bengal's current governor about the Trinamool Congress government evoke memories of remarks that his predecessor had made about the then Left Front government.

"This has nothing to do with political culture. This is goondaism," said M K Narayanan, the current governor, expressing outrage at the latest outbreak of political violence, involving largely Trinamool Congress musclemen who last week torched dozens of vehicles and assaulted a 70-year-old former CPM minister.

His predecessor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, had reacted no less strongly to the 2007 firing in Nandigram that killed 14 villagers. "The news of deaths by police firing in Nandigram this morning has filled me with a sense of cold horror," Gandhi had said.

As Gandhi's comments did, Narayanan's have now raised a debate over how much a governor, who holds a constitutional post, should air his political views, apart from bringing the two governors' personalities into focus.

Governor Gandhi and Governor Narayanan assumed office in starkly different political circumstances. Gandhi had arrived in Bengal when the opposition, after three decades of unbroken communist rule, was just beginning to consolidate, a process that peaked with the Singur and Nandigram agitations. Political and bureaucratic sources say Gandhi acknowledged the new alignment of forces that was taking shape and assumed the role of a guardian, often trying to play an impartial judge.

Narayanan, on the other hand, took over the mantle when key political forces had realigned themselves, the transition having already started to take place. Politics was now extremely polarised, one reason why violence was mounting.

"Gandhi was emotional and flamboyant," says a bureaucrat who has watched both governors work. "On at least two occasions I saw Gandhi in tears, once after he witnessed the plight of Nandigram villagers when he visited there, and again during a visit to Darjeeling where he saw the plight of starving workers of shut tea gardens. He made a detour of almost 150 km from Darjeeling to meet the workers, sought immediate reports from the government and ensured that they got food and medical relief."

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.