Punjab Governor threatens President’s rule, CM hits back: ‘don’t test patience’

Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Punjab

Amid the ongoing row between Punjab Governor and CM – the former threatening to impose Prez  rule in the State and the latter retaliating: ‘‘patience of 3.5 crore Punjabis shouldn’t be tested,’’ the AAP government has received support from an unexpected quarter. A report by Maninder Singh

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring has termed the governor’s warning of recommending President’s rule in the state “wrong and unacceptable”, and suggested that he and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann should sit together to find a solution. The Congress leader also said that if Governor Banwarilal Purohit had any issue with Mann, he should use some other constitutional powers and seek a reply from the chief secretary.

 Warring posted on ‘X’, previously Twitter, “(Warning of) recommending the President’s rule and that too because of mutual grudges is very wrong and completely unacceptable. Nothing is going to come out of this fight. Sit down, speak to each other and find a solution because it is only hurting Punjabis.”

 Interestingly, however, the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal accused the AAP of deliberately adopting a “confrontationist attitude”.

 A state is brought under direct rule of the Centre with the invocation of Article 356, usually after a report is sent by the Governor, while Section 124 of the IPC relates to assaulting or wrongfully restraining the President or a governor from exercising their lawful powers.

 Purohit, in a letter to Mann, wrote that he could recommend the President’s rule in the state and also launch criminal proceedings if his letters were not answered. The governor indicated he was upset over not getting any reply from the chief minister on his previous letters, and warned of sending a report to the President on the failure of the constitutional mechanism.

 Bhagwant Mann had often called the Governor’s letters as “love letters.”

“Before I… take final decision regarding sending a report to the President of India under Article 356 about the failure of the Constitutional mechanism and take a decision about initiating criminal proceedings under Section 124 of the IPC, I ask you to send me the requisite information sought for under my letters… 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 law and the Constitution,” the Governor said in his letter.

Purohit said he is bound by the “duty placed on the Governor under the Constitution to see that the administration is carried on a level, which would be regarded as good, efficient, impartial and honest,” and that proposals enunciated by the government are not contrary to the law of the land.

“I have, therefore, to advise you, warn you and ask you to respond to my letters and give me the information sought by me,” Purohit said in the letter, which was also released to the media.

Reminding Mann of a letter he wrote on August 1, the Governor said, “It appears that you are deliberately refusing to give the information asked by me.” He said that Article 167 of the Constitution makes it mandatory for the Chief Minister “to furnish all such information relating to the administration of affairs of the state as the Governor may call for”.

In his letter, the Governor claimed he had received reports from various agencies on rampant drug abuse in Punjab.

“It is common knowledge that they are available in chemist shops, a new trend is observed that they are being sold in government-controlled liquor vends”. He also cited a Parliamentary standing committee report on drug addiction in Punjab. “These facts point to the “breaking down of the law and order system in Punjab” to the extent that villagers have now started protesting on the streets “setting up their own village defence committees” to protect themselves from drugs. “Please send a report concerning the action taken by you in the matter of these drugs to my office immediately,” Purohit said.

“Far from supplying the information, you have exhibited an absence of grace and decorum when you proceeded to make unnecessary and unwarranted observations demonstrating what may only be described as extreme animosity and personal prejudice against me personally, as also the office of the Governor,” Purohit wrote.

He also reminded Mann that “based on legal opinion”, he had informed the government that holding the two-day special session of Vidhan Sabha in June “without any agenda… would be unlawful, (but) you went ahead with the extended budget session and proceeded to make derogatory remarks.”

 After the Governor “threatened” to recommend the President’s rule in Punjab in case the state government did not answer his questions, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said, “Don’t test our patience. As a representative of 3.5 crore Punjabis, and not as the Chief Minister, I’ll like to point out that we have played a major role in the freedom struggle… We have defended the country’s borders against foreign aggression and have also fed the nation for decades after the Green Revolution,” said CM Mann, addressing the media here.

The Chief Minister said the government had replied to nine of the 16 questions asked by the Governor, and that the rest too would be replied shortly. At the same time, he questioned the Governor’s “intentions”, asking where he got such orders from. “It exhibits a hunger for grabbing power…. We (Punjabis) also know how to fight back when suppressed. Whatever you are doing is unconstitutional. Don’t rub salt into our wounds,” he said.

CM Mann alleged that the BJP, through the Governor, was trying to destabilise governments in states, including West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where the saffron party was unable to purchase MLAs to topple regimes. “I want to ask our Governor whether his counterpart in neighbouring Haryana issued any notice to CM Manohar Lal Khattar during the recent communal clashes in Nuh. We also did not hear anything from the Manipur Governor in the aftermath of the Kuki-Meitei clashes. Is that so only because both the states have BJP governments?” he said.

Mann also reminded the Governor that he had not yet signed at least six Bills passed by the government. “The Governor did not show any interest in taking up with the Centre the issue of Punjab not getting its due share of the RDF (Rural Development Fund) or the GST. He has also not bothered to voice the cause of farmers with the Centre, which is responsible for addressing 99 per cent of their demands…. A ‘selected’ Governor does not have any moral right to threaten a democratically ‘elected’ government,” he said.