Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar has expressed his gratitude to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her move to abstain from voting in the vice presidential election in August this year.
The Vice President said that while he was the Governor of West Bengal, he did not utter a single word against Mamata Banerjee’s dignity “irrespective of whatever she said”, adding that he did everything “in open and in writing”.
Mr Dhankhar was addressing the felicitation program in the Rajasthan Assembly on Tuesday.
“I told her (Mamata) that I am no more the Governor of your state. Keep your hand on your heart and think if I have anything which is against the Constitution. Have I ever uttered a single word against her dignity, irrespective of whatever she said? Whatever I did was in the open and in writing. Still, through this House, I thank her for her move for the first time,” he said.
Notably, during his tenure as the Governor of West Bengal, Mr Dhankhar and Ms Banerjee have clashed relentlessly on various occasions.
Mr Dhankhar also recalled his interaction with former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje on Mamata Banerjee, in which, he joked, had sought “help” from her in the form of a “magic spell”, while he was the Governor.
“Vasundhara Raje started in the parliamentary area in 1989. I also got this opportunity. Since then my relations with her have been personal. I even sought help from her after becoming the Governor of West Bengal – that my Chief Minister is Mamata Banerjee. Please tell me some magic spell,” he said.
The friendly banter was also seen during the program after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot asked in a lighter vein during his address “What magic did Dhankhar do on a tough lady like Mamata?” that she abstained from voting during the Vice President’s election.
“Your relations were the topic of discussion in the country till the time you were there for three years. What magic did you do that when you became the vice presidential candidate, the same Mamata Banerjee abstained from voting? Please tell us the secret. What magic did you do on a tough lady like Mamata? I am the magician,” Mr Gehlot said.
He further asked if there was a “bigger magician” in India than him.
Responding to it, Mr Dhankhar jokingly said, “I remember when the Rajasthan Assembly elections were underway, Rajendra Rathore was the candidate from Churu. I went to his rally. The magic of the magician is okay (pointing towards Mr Gehlot), but even I did magic that he never lost an election till today.”
“The Chief Minister (Ashok Gehlot) asked what was that magic that Mamata Banerjee took the decision (to abstain from voting in vice presidential elections). I am beyond politics. Why are the political decisions taken, how are they taken, and on what basis are they taken – Ashok Gehlot, Vasundhara Raje and others can throw light on this,” he added.
Mr Dhankhar was elected as the Vice President in August. He defeated the opposition’s Margaret Alva to emerge as the winner.
The BJP-led NDA candidate won the election comfortably with 528 votes against Ms Alva’s 182. The Vice President is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Mr Dhankhar secured 74.36 per cent of votes. He has the highest winning margin in the last six vice presidential elections held since 1997.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)