Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday lashed out at Governor Banwarilal Purohit for “threatening” to impose President’s rule in the state and asked why his counterparts were “silent” on the law and order situation in BJP-ruled states.
Mann said the “selected” governor does not have any moral authority to “threaten” elected representatives of the people and asserted that he is “not going to bow down”.
Addressing a press conference, the chief minister alleged that the governors are acting as “puppets” of the Union government to create hindrances in the functioning of non-BJP governments in states like Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and said such things don’t augur well for the country’s federal structure.
“Punjab is most affected in the past due to Article 356. So, don’t rub salts on our wounds… Governor Sahab, don’t try to test the patience and emotions of the Punjabis,” Mann said.
The governor has been accusing Mann of not responding to the letters sent to him in defiance of his authority. Purohit had on Friday warned the Mann government that he could recommend President’s rule in the state and also launch criminal proceedings if his letters were not answered.
Mann said on Saturday that the governor wrote 16 letters, of which replies have been given to nine and the rest are being followed up. He said replies for the remaining letters are being readied and will be given in the coming week as in some cases detailed information has to be gathered which takes time.
At the same time, the chief minister alleged the letters from the governor reek of “hunger for power”.
Taking potshots, he said Purohit may be feeling ”politically irrelevant” and now he can become BJP’s chief ministerial face for poll-bound Rajasthan, from where he originally hails, and take power there so that he can freely give orders.
He asserted that “threats” like the imposition of the President’s rule won’t scare him and the Punjabis.
“The threat which the governor gave to the people of Punjab, peace-loving people of the state, I will call it a threat of imposition of the President’s rule,” Mann said at the press conference, decrying the governor’s “unconstitutional” remarks.
Mann said that while his government had been taking proactive steps to tackle the scourge of drugs, confiscating and raiding properties of smugglers, and going after gangsters with the formation of an Anti-Gangster Task Force, the governor claims law and order in the state is not good.
“I want to ask Governor Sahab, has the Haryana Governor issued any notice to Haryana Chief Minister Khattar regarding what happened in Nuh, communal clashes and violence that took place there and curfew had to be imposed? Did the Haryana governor write any letter to Khattar? No, because their government is also ruling at the Centre,” he said.
He said the Punjab governor was concerned about law and order in Punjab, but never gave a statement on Manipur which is reeling from ethnic violence. “Is the Constitution not applicable in Manipur?” In Uttar Pradesh, a murder takes place in front of journalists, “But will the UP Governor dare issue any letter to Yogi Adityanath questioning law and order” asked the CM, apparently referring to the brazen gunning down of mafia-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed in April this year.
Most people would not know of their governors’ names, except those in Punjab, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, because they all are ruled by the non-BJP governments, Mann claimed.
Mann said that six bills, two of which are from the tenure of the previous government led by Amarinder Singh, are still awaiting the governor’s assent and added that while Purohit expects a reply to be given immediately to his letters, he keeps sitting on the bills on the grounds that he is seeking legal advice.
Questioning the conduct of governors in non-BJP ruled states, Mann said that the Telangana government had to move the apex court against delays by the governor in giving his assent to the bills passed by the assembly.
“We (AAP govt in Punjab) are an elected government with 92 MLAs. The Election Commission held polls as per the Constitution. We pass agenda in cabinet and then bills are introduced, but they get stuck for want of governor’s assent,” he said.
Mann cited investments in the state during AAP’s tenure, saying this would not have been possible if law and order was not good.