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Allegations of molestation against governor spark political firestorm in West Bengal

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Kolkata/ Purba Bardhaman, May 3 (PTI) The political tussle over a complaint by a Raj Bhavan woman employee who accused Governor C V Ananda Bose of "molesting" her escalated on Friday with the Governor dubbing the allegations as "absurd drama" and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee attacking him, calling the charges "shameful and distressing".

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Meanwhile, the police remained tightlipped over their action in the matter. "All necessary steps are being taken following the complaint by the woman," a senior police official said.

A contractual woman employee on Thursday evening had lodged a police complaint at the Hare Street Police station accusing Bose of molesting her and a host of TMC leaders posted on social media about the incident dubbing the incident as "horrific and appalling." Banerjee dubbed the incident as "deeply distressing", and claimed that the same governor who showed great urgency in reaching Sandeshkhali now stands accused of molesting a female staff at Raj Bhavan".

Earlier in the day, Bose said he expected more such allegations to surface but that would not deter him from his "determined efforts to expose corruption and curb violence" in the state.

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In a recorded statement released by Raj Bhavan, Bose said, "I welcome all the generous allegations and the frequent innuendoes passed on me by some political forces. I understand, my friends, there is more in the offing. But one thing is clear, none of the absurd dramas is going to deter me from my determined efforts to expose corruption and curb violence." Claiming that character assassination is the last resort of a "failing malevolence", Bose said, "A more sinister plot has been hatched in the Raj Bhavan".

Bose mocked the allegations, saying one day he would also be blamed for the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 as well as the '1946 Calcutta Killings'. "That is the nature of the political forces working in the state," he said.

The governor said he was briefed about what he can expect in Bengal from certain political parties.

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"I have braved many storms. I tell the political party that is plotting against me, this is no storm. This is only a storm in a teacup. Do not be surprised if you realise I am the storm. Bring out all the weapons from your armoury. Use it against me. I am willing. I am prepared. I shall continue my fight for the dignity and respect of my brothers and sisters of Bengal," he stated.

Addressing an election rally in Purba Bardhaman, Banerjee said, "Yesterday, a young woman who worked at Raj Bhavan came out and spoke against the governor's harassment...the tears of the woman broke my heart. I have seen her video testimony." Banerjee said the woman cried and walked out, saying she was too scared to work at Raj Bhavan.

"And these are the people who talk about the dignity of our mothers and sisters? It is deeply distressing that the same governor who showed great urgency in reaching Sandeshkhali now stands accused of molesting a female staff," Banerjee said.

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The Chief Minister also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the issue.

"You (PM) are saying so many things in Sandeshkhali. We had taken necessary action the moment we found some aberrations. But you spent the entire night at Raj Bhavan even after the allegations by the hapless woman came to light. Why are you silent?," she asked at a second rally at Purbasthali in Purba Bardhaman district.

Bose had on Thursday said he would not be cowed down by "engineered narratives" and the "truth shall triumph." Reacting to the Governor's remarks, senior TMC leader and Industry Minister Shashi Panja said the party has no agenda and no role behind this.

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"Such an allegation against a governor never happened before. This has certainly demeaned the prestige of the chair of the governor. We demand that an impartial inquiry should be done," Panja told reporters.

Questioning the immunity granted to governors by the Constitution, Panja said, "What the (Bengal) governor allegedly committed is a crime. Then why this immunity? The law cannot be different".

Under Article 361 of the Constitution, no criminal proceedings can be instituted against a governor during his term in office.

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Reacting to the governor's recent orders barring state finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya from entering the Raj Bhavan premises, Panja questioned the legitimacy of the order.

She said, "How can the governor do this? How can he be so sure that we women ministers are willing to go to Raj Bhavan after these allegations came to the fore?" Reacting to the alleged incident, senior BJP leader Dilip Ghosh claimed that the saffron party had information that such a conspiracy was being plotted.

"Now, it has been proven. Shockingly, they have stooped so low, showing little respect for constitutional posts. This is destructive. They are trying to destroy the democratic structure of the country," Ghosh said. PTI SCH/DC/SUS PNT MNB

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