As Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar was known for his frequent run-ins with Mamata Banerjee.
Jagdeep Dhankhar, advocate, politician and the NDA candidate for the post of the Vice President, is best known for his role as the former Governor of Bengal, when his frequent run-ins with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee generated many a headline — his voice often more strident than the state’s opposition BJP.
Mr Dhankhar was appointed the Governor on Bengal in July 2019 – his abrasive relationship with the government was seen by many as part of a pattern established in many opposition-ruled states, including Delhi.
Over the last three years, the 71-year-old has called out the Mamata Banerjee government multiple times over its policies, decisions, law and order or administrative issues, drawing intense reaction from the Trinamool Congress and its chief.
But after his nomination, Ms Banerjee — who has written to Delhi several times demanding his recall and accused him of being a BJP stooge — in a surprise move, said she will abstain from voting in the Vice-Presidential election.
Trinamool insisted that it was not a mark of support for the NDA candidate but rather, an expression of protest against not being consulted during the selection of the opposition candidate, Margaret Alva.
But the move, coming after a meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s pointsperson in the northeast, where Mr Dhankhar was also present, left room for speculation.
The Trinamool’s decision, however, will undoubtedly aid Mr Dhankhar during the Vice-Presidential elections on Saturday.
Apart from the NDA constituents, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have also pledged support to him.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after Mr Dhankhar’s nomination, said the tenure of the leader dubbed “Kisan putra” will be “excellent, inspiring”.
“Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar Ji has excellent knowledge of our Constitution. He is also well-versed with legislative affairs. I am sure that he will be an outstanding Chair in the Rajya Sabha & guide the proceedings of the House with the aim of furthering national progress,” his tweet read.
There are expectations that Mr Dhankhar’s legal background will make him a complement to President Droupadi Murmu, who was a teacher before turning to politics.
The selection of the Rajasthan leader is also seen as likely to help the BJP in the next year’s election in the Congress-ruled state. Mr Dhankhar belongs to the politically powerful Jat community, which forms a chunk of the population in Rajasthan and is currently at odds with the BJP.
Born in a farmer’s farmer’s family in Kithana, a small village in Rajasthan, Mr Dhankhar had been an advocate in the Rajasthan High Court and later, the Supreme Court.
In 1990, he joined politics and was part of the Congress when PV Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister. He shifted to the BJP with the rise of Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and is said to have become close to Vasundhara Raje.
After filing his nomination as the Vice-presidential candidate last month, PM Modi at his side, Mr Dhankhar said, “Not even in my dreams did I think that a common man like me would be given such an opportunity. A farmer’s son has filed his nomination today…Grateful to PM Modi and the leadership for this opportunity”.
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