Chandigarh: Departing from the tradition of reading pre-scripted speech on the opening day of the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha, Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit advised Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and legislators to maintain transparency not just in public life, but in private life as well.
“Total transparency should be not only with respect to one’s public life. I will go one step further. This transparency has to be there in your private life also. Why not? You are the ideals, the leaders of society and you should be transparent in your personal life as well,” he said Friday.
“For example, in case you go to some club where you are sitting with someone, then your spouse or your family should know where you are or who you are with. In public life, why hide anything? Everything should be in the open. Even if you have a bad habit, then you should do it openly. At least then your friends can stop you from it,” he said.
“Caesar’s wife should not only be above suspicion, but she should be seen to be so,” he said, tweaking the famous Shakespearean lines, in a series of unscripted retorts. “This is my humble advice to you. I have every right to advise you and I am confident that you will follow my advice.”
Deviating multiple times from the printed text given to him to speak by the government, the Governor, who is at loggerheads with Mann, lectured the House on “transparency”, “accountability” and mutual “respect”.
He took the opportunity to advise Mann and the legislators when a part of the speech mentioned that the government was delivering corruption-free transparent governance.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Mann government and the Governor have been on the warpath for the past several months. The latest battle was fought in the Supreme Court this week when the state government moved a petition against the governor for not summoning the budget session. Purohit had refused to summon the budget session over what he had termed as “patently unconstitutional” and “extremely derogatory” behaviour of the Chief Minister.
However, when the case came up for hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the top court that the governor had now summoned the House. The top court then pulled up both the Punjab government and Purohit for their actions.
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Opposition backs Governor
The governor used his speech on the opening day of the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha to embarrass the Mann government with some willing help from the opposition.
Purohit deviated from the written text the moment he started the speech, refusing to use the word “my” prefixed with the word “government”. He referred to the government as “the government”.
The chief minister objected to the governor refusing to use the word “my government.” He pointed out that the speech was cleared by his cabinet and it has to be read the way it is.
However, Leader of the Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa pointed out that it would not be appropriate for the Governor to call this government his because the Chief Minister considered the Governor “selected”.
Bajwa was referring to one of these several acrimonious communications between the duo when Mann had refused to give information sought by Purohit on the grounds that he was the elected CM and was not accountable to a “selected” governor.
The Governor had recently sought information about the criteria followed by the government in choosing the 36 government school principals sent to Singapore for an all-paid training trip.
When the Governor spoke about the Singapore trip of the principals as part of the achievements listed in his speech in the Vidhan Sabha, Bajwa interrupted to ask if the government finally gave the information he had sought.
At this point, the Governor gave a tongue-in-cheek reply, saying “Since they are insisting that I should call this my government and now I am confident that they will give me all the information that I have sought.”
“No matter what the truth will come out just wait (saanch ko aanch nahi, thoda wait kariye),” he said in the middle of a speech when interrupted by the opposition over Mann not sharing information with the Governor.
The opposition walked out of the House in protest against the Mann government not sharing information with the Governor, even as Purohit was seen trying to placate the opposition and asking them to sit and listen to his speech. “Discussions and deliberations on what I have said can take place. There is enough time for that,” he said.
Before reading the last section of pre-scripted speech, the Governor stated that during the Assembly sessions there should be only serious debate in the House. Fighting and shouting should be avoided.
“I was in Parliament three times, and I have also remained MLA and have been a governor four times. Being a senior man, I’m supposed to tell you this thing and I think you will follow my advice both in the opposition and the ruling (party). You should respect one another. That should be the culture from this state. The message should go that it is an ideal state and an ideal Vidhan Sabha,” he added.
(Edited by Geethalakshmi Ramanathan)
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