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TMC's Mahua Moitra Accuses Bengal Governor of Appointing 'Extended Family' as OSDs

Governor Dhankhar, however, has called the MP's allegations "factually wrong".

Kolkata: The ongoing skirmish between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar escalated on Sunday when TMC MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra shared details of six OSDs (Officer on Special Duty) to governor Dhankhar and claimed that all of them are somehow related to him, or from his known circle. This is just the latest in a series of spats between TMC leaders and the governor.

Moitra, known for delivering feisty speeches in parliament, released the names of six OSDs to the governor on Twitter along with details about their relationships with the latter. She said the removal of the governor along with his OSDs would improve the situation in the state, which the governor had recently described as ‘grim’.

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Moitra had tweeted the details of OSDs right after the governor’s tweet expressing concerns over the law and order situation in the state. “There is a state of anarchy and lawlessness. All elements of the police state are amply reflected. Democratic values are openly shredded and trampled by the ruling party harmads [paid thugs]. People are in mortal fear of police and that in turn is at the feet of the ruling party rogue elements,” the governor wrote.

On Monday morning, the governor responded to Moitra’s allegations and called them “factually wrong”. The governor said, “OSDs are from three states and belong to four different castes. None of them is part of a close family. Four of them are not from my caste or state.”

He further said that the move was a ‘distraction strategy’ to divert attention from the alarming law and order scenario in the state. “Would continue undeterred and with zeal to serve the people of the state and vindicate my oath of office under Article 159 of the Constitution,” governor Dhankhar tweeted.

In a counter-response, Moitra asked the governor “to lay out right here what antecedents of the appointees are & how each one got into Raj Bhavan.

Moitra’s document claimed that Abbhudoy Singh Sekhawat, the governor’s OSD, is his brother-in-law’s son. Akhil Chowdhury, who is the OSD (co-ordination), has a close family relationship with the governor while Ruchi Dubey OSD (administration) is the wife of Major Gorang Diksit, ex-ADC (aides-de-camp) to the governor and the Major’s brother Prasant Diksit is the OSD (protocol). OSD (IT) Koustav S Valikar is the brother-in-law of Dhankhar’s present ADC Srikant Janardan Rao, IPS. Kishan Dhankhar, a newly appointed OSD of the Governor, is also Dhankhar’s close relative.

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“He keeps asking questions to the state government. I would rather request him to look into the mirror. He has brought his entire village and entire clan to the Raj Bhawan. I have the democratic right to raise such questions,” Moitra told the media.

The Wire, however, found three of the above six names in the “Directory of Officers and Employees” of the Raj Bhawan’s official website. Ruchi Dubey, Koustav S. Valikar and Kishan Dhankhar’s names do not appear on the Raj Bhawan’s official website.

The Wire on Sunday evening sent a detailed questionnaire via email to governor Dhankhar, the additional chief secretary to the governor, Sunil Kumar Gupta and the commissioner to the governor, Utpal Biswas. The Wire also tried to reach the Governor over the phone. Abbhudoy Singh Sekhawat, the governor’s OSD received the call and said, “Drop an email and the governor will certainly respond to it.” The story will be updated as and when the governor responds.

Since his appointment in 2019, Governor Dhankhar has been at loggerheads with the West Bengal government, chief minister Mamata Banerjee and several senior TMC leaders. Dhankhar pointed out the alleged lawlessness and violence in the state after the assembly election results were declared.

Three days ago, the governor sought details of the steps taken by Mamata Banerjee for the appointment of the DGP of West Bengal. Even in the past, governor Dhankhar had questioned various appointments by the state administrations.

A week before, when the former chief secretary of Bengal Alapan Bandyopadhyay got caught in the middle of a political storm between the state and the Centre, governor Dhankhar said, “All constitutional principles were torn asunder by CM Mamata Banerjee and functionaries @IASassociation at PM Review Meet #CycloneYaas. Democracy imperilled by such an unconstitutional stance.”