Chandigarh: A day after Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit warned Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann that he would recommend President’s Rule in Punjab if the state government did not answer his questions, Mann on Saturday hit back saying that he was not going to bow down to such threats.
Briefing newspersons here, Mann said that the Governor had humiliated 3.5 crore Punjabis by threatening President’s Rule and that he was not going to bow down to such threats.
Mann said that the governor better knew under whose pressure he wrote, but this letter had humiliated the Punjabis who had elected their government more than a year ago with a thumping mandate.
Governor's Alleged Puppetry and Constitutional Dismay
Mann alleged that the governor had demeaned the Constitution of India as according to it, the people had the right to elect the government of their choice, but the governors were acting as puppet of union government to create unwanted hindrances the functioning of non-BJP governments in states like Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Mann further held that he wanted to make it clear to the governor that he (Purohit) had threatened to impose President’s rule in Punjab but the people of Punjab were not afraid of it and that Punjab had suffered the most from the misuse of Article 356 in the country.
The chief minister expressed disappointment that Punjab had endured the heavy toll of arbitrary actions and mistreatment by previous union governments, and once again, the current union government was attempting to undermine the state's democratic values through the governor.
Correspondence Battle and Unanswered Queries
He held he had been consistently responding to the governor's correspondence and had already replied to nine out of total 16 letters and the responses to the remaining letters would be dispatched shortly. "Governor of Punjab is repeatedly peeping his nose in day to day affairs of state government and is now shamelessly threatening to topple the government," he said.
Rejecting the attacks by the governor on the drug situation in the state, Mann said his government had launched a crusade against drugs as over 23,518 drug smugglers had been arrested 1,627 kg heroin seized while Rs 13.29 crore had been recovered from smugglers and properties of 66 drug smugglers, seized.
For the record, Purohit had on Friday written to Mann; "Before I take the final decision regarding sending a report to the President under Article 356 about the failure of the constitutional mechanism and take a decision about initiating criminal proceedings under Section 124 of IPC, I ask you to send me the requisite information sought for under my letters referred to above, as also in the matter of the steps taken by you concerning the problem of drugs in the state, failing which I would have no choice but to take action according to the law and the Constitution."
Governor and Chief Minister's Ongoing Feud
Notably, Purohit and Mann have been at odds for over a year now over a variety of issues including appointment of vice chancellors, convening of special assembly sessions, besides others, and the former has also repeatedly accused Mann of not responding to his official letters seeking information on administrative matters. Adding fuel to the fire, Mann has, on the other hand, termed the governor’s communications as "love letters".