Punjab and Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki has run into trouble with the Congress for saying at a university convocation in Phagwara on Monday that he hoped to see Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal as country's next president.
Reacting to the statement on Tuesday, the state opposition party demanded that Solanki be sacked for showing "utter disregard to incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee". Solanki has told HT on telephone that he meant to only convey his good wishes to Badal and could never undermine the authority of the Indian President.
The governor made the statement in the presence of Rajkeswur Purryag, visiting President of Mauritius. "Yeh to shishtachar hai ke ham kisi ko shubkamnayen dein (It's basic courtesy to give good wishes to someone we're addressing), said Solanki, adding: "What wrong in it?"
He said his address had touched upon how Badal had started his career as village sapranch and progressed to become five-time CM. "I said that with this career graph, he could even become the president. The controversy is unnecessary," said Solanki, "who am I to appoint a president?"
The Congress said it had its reasons to want him sacked. "It's and a gigantic gaffe and detestable act to project someone as president when neither there is any vacancy nor the appointment to the highest constitutional office of India within the jurisdiction of the governor, who himself is appointed by the President and holds office at the latter's pleasure," said Bir Devinder Singh, former deputy speaker of the Punjab assembly.
In his views it was even more irresponsible to make this public statement in the presence of a foreign head of state. "Solanki committed a serious breach of constitutional propriety with an open show of lack of confidence in the President's office, disrespect for its glory, and utter disregard for the incumbent," said the Congress leader.
He said it was not yet what the governor was up to, "making a fool of himself, of Badal, or of the entire nation in the presence of the Mauritian President". Solanki, he said, was neither entitled to making such a calibrated statement in a public function nor expected to behave capriciously.
A governor was expected to act and speak with utmost restraint, said Bir Devinder, adding that "for this repugnant act, Solanki does not deserve to stay in Raj Bhawan even for another minute". He said that Congress wanted the Prime Minister to recommend to the President that he be dismissed under Article 156 of the Constitution for "his abhorrent act of treason; and inappropriate, unconstitutional and whimsical indulgence from a public platform".