Kolkata : West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi Wednesday observed a voluntary two-hour power cut to share the ordeal faced by Kolkata residents due to daily outages. Terming it a “publicity stunt”, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) called for “redefining” the role of governors.
“It seems Gandhi has forgotten the limitations of the duties and responsibilities of a governor. He does not have the right to interfere in this matter,” said CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose.
“In fact, I think West Bengal doesn’t need a governor at all. As it is the governor hardly has any serious responsibilities. Or if the post remains, let the people elect their governor,” remarked Bose, who is also convenor of West Bengal’s ruling Left Front.
The governor – a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi – started his drive in the afternoon and the Raj Bhavan’s power supply was stopped from 1.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 6-7 p.m., Gandhi’s media spokesperson Dhruba Gupta told IANS.
“Initially, it was decided that Gandhi will observe the power cut during 7-9 p.m. But he changed his schedule,” he said.
“In the first phase of the power cut, the governor was outside Raj Bhavan for official work. The employees present inside did their work in daylight. In the evening, Gandhi spent the one-hour of darkness in the balcony of his suite,” Gupta added.
State secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty also criticised Gandhi’s move.
“Public expectations from Gandhi will rise after this. Then he will have to donate the palatial bungalow (Raj Bhavan) to slum-dwellers to solve housing problems. He may also skip a meal daily to protest against inflation and walk or travel by bus instead of his air-conditioned car. As it is he does not have any thing worthy to do apart from inaugurating various functions across the state,” Chakraborty said sarcastically.
CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, speaking in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, favoured “redefining” the role of governors.
Reacting to a specific question on Bose questioning the relevance of the governor’s post, he said: “We have always said that the governor’s post needs to be redefined. Shortly, this will be taken up by us with the centre-state relationship panel.”
State Power Minister Mrinal Banerjee also spoke against Gandhi.
“I don’t understand how Gandhi’s two-hour self-imposed darkness will contribute in producing electricity. We are already working on the power cut hazards. The situation is taking a favourable turn. Now Gandhi’s publicity stunt will send a wrong message to the public,” said Banerjee.
The governor’s spokesman Gupta, however, told IANS: “The governor is not opting for the power cut to protest against the power shortage but to share the inconvenience of Kolkatans caused by frequent power cuts since April. This is his way to make people feel that he is one of them.”
Gandhi did find some support in Transport, Sports and Youth Services Minister Subhas Chakraborty.
“Gandhi’s decision is a personal one. No one has the right to interfere in his decision. If he manages to bring out some changes in the electric supply scenario of the city through this, we must support him,” he said.
The Raj Bhavan enjoys uninterrupted supply of electricity through a dedicated feeder line provided by the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) and has never suffered major power cuts.
CESC officials said the power line at Raj Bhavan is proofed against load-shedding and is capable of taking a load of 700 kilowatts compared to a two-kilowatt load capacity line of a two-bedroom flat.