Punjab CM hits back at governor, says don’t test patience of Punjabis

Aug 26, 2023 05:01 PM IST

Day after governor Banwarilal Purohit writes to chief minister Bhagwant Mann threatening to recommend President’s rule in border state, the CM says he is deliberately threatening Punjabis who had elected the AAP with an overwhelming majority

A day after Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit wrote to chief minister Bhagwant Mann telling him to respond to his letters or face the prospect of President’s rule in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party leader on Saturday hit back asking him not to test the patience of Punjabis.

Chief minister Bhagwant Mann addressed a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday and hit out against governor Banwarilal Purohit for threatening to recommend President’s rule in the state. (HT file photo)
Chief minister Bhagwant Mann addressed a press conference in Chandigarh on Saturday and hit out against governor Banwarilal Purohit for threatening to recommend President’s rule in the state. (HT file photo)

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, a belligerent Mann, who won the Punjab assembly elections by an overwhelming majority in February 2022, said: “Don’t try to test the patience of Punjabis. The governor is deliberately threatening Punjabis by saying that he will recommend President’s rule. He is trying to make fun of the mandate given by the people of Punjab.”

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Also read: Punjab Governor threatens President’s Rule in letter to CM Mann

Terming Purohit’s threat to recommend President’s rule in the state as an insult to 3.5 crore Punjabis, Mann said it had “bruised the psyche of peaceful and hardworking Punjabis, who have made unprecedented sacrifices for preserving the unity and integrity of the country besides making the nation surplus in foodgrain production”.

“We are not afraid of Article 356. Punjab has suffered the most from its misuse. I am not going to bow down to such threats and will not compromise with the interest of the state and its people,” Mann said.

The chief minister claimed the governor had written the letter under pressure, but it had humiliated Punjabis who had elected their own government with a thumping mandate.

He said that a “selected governor” did not have the moral right to threaten elected representatives and make a malicious attempt to topple this democratically elected government. He said Purohit had demeaned the Constitution and insulted its chief architect, Dr BR Ambedkar, by “such tantrums”.

Purohit had on Friday written to Mann, threatening to initiate criminal proceedings against the AAP leader if he did not reply to his letters. The governor said there was reason to believe that there is failure of constitutional machinery in the state. “Before I am going to take a final decision regarding sending a report to the President of India under Article 356 (Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in state) about the failure of the constitutional mechanism and decide about initiating criminal proceedings under Section 124 (assaulting the governor with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power) of the IPC, I ask you to send me the requisite information sought for in my letters,” the governor had written.

Purohit hungry for power, politically irrelevant: CM

However, Mann said that the letters written by Purohit smell of “hunger for power as he is feeling politically irrelevant now”.

“Since he has lost elections there (in his parent state), still he is not able to leave his habit of giving orders. I have learnt that before moving to Nagpur, governor saab’s family used to live in Rajasthan. If he has so much passion to give orders, why doesn’t he become the BJP’s CM face in Rajasthan and contest the assembly elections there,” said Mann.

He claimed that Punjab is one of the best states in terms of law and order and has attracted investment of 50,871 crore.

Mann and Purohit have been at loggerheads over several issues for almost a year, including the steps taken concerning the drug problem, the appointment of vice-chancellors, and the convening of special assembly sessions.

“I chose the best doctors for the post of V-C but the governor said he will have a person of his choice. When we decided to hold the assembly session, the governor didn’t give permission. I had to take the help of the Supreme Court to get permission to hold the session,” the CM said.

Mann says governors Centre’s puppets in Oppn-ruled states

“People have the right to elect the government of their choice, but governors are acting as puppets of the Union government to create unwarranted hindrances in the functioning of non-BJP governments in states, such as Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” Mann claimed.

He said Punjab had suffered due to the arbitrary actions of previous Union governments, and once again, the there was a bid to undermine the state’s democratic values through the governor. “The Governor is conspiring to seize power which is why he is issuing threats to oust an elected government,” Mann claimed.

‘Governor wants replies but what about pending Bills?’

The chief minister said he has been responding to the governor’s correspondence, having replied to nine of the 16 letters. He said responses to the rest of the letters will be despatched “shortly”. However, he expressed concern that Purohit was “exerting pressure on an elected government in an unconstitutional manner”.

“The governor needs answers to his letters immediately but what about the six Bills that had been passed in the Vidhan Sabha? He is sitting on them for the past year and a half,” said Mann.

Questioning the governor’s silence on unresolved issues, the chief minister pointed out that the Union government has withheld crores of rupees of under the Rural Development Fund (RDF) and goods and services tax (GST) allocations. “The Centre has not paid attention to the concerns of Punjab’s farmers and it is alarming that the governor has not written a single letter to the central government addressing the real issues of Punjab,” Mann said.

Regarding the meeting on Panjab University, the CM claimed that the Punjab governor consistently favoured BJP-ruled Haryana, indicating “a lack of loyalty” to Punjabis.

Mann said Purohit, as Chandigarh administrator, had removed a Punjab-cadre senior superintendent of police posted in Chandigarh overnight, depriving Punjab of the post for six months.

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