Chandigarh: Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit has refused to summon the budget session of the Punjab legislature pending legal advice over what he termed as “patently unconstitutional” and “extremely derogatory” behaviour of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
This is the latest salvo fired by the Governor at Mann in the ongoing war of words between them.
On 14 February, Mann had tweeted that according to the Constitution, he was not accountable to the Governor but only to the three crore Punjabis (who had elected him). The chief minister followed up his tweet with a letter to the governor.
In his letter to the chief minister Wednesday, Purohit has now referred to the subject of summoning the House of the legislature on 3 March.
“Since your tweet and letter both are not only patently unconstitutional but extremely derogatory also, therefore I am compelled to take legal advise on this issue. Only after getting legal advice I will take a decision on your request,” the governor wrote.
The Punjab cabinet had met Wednesday and announced that the Budget session would begin 3 March and continue till 11 March. The Budget was to be presented on 10 March. The Budget session would then restart on 22 March and continue till 24 March.
Mann had explained that the assembly session was going to be held in two phases with a break in between for the two rounds of the G20 Summit to be held in Amritsar from 15 to 17 March and 19 to 20 March.
According to the schedule cleared by the Punjab cabinet, the governor was to address the assembly on 3 March. After Wednesday’s development, it is not clear if the governor would allow the session to begin at all.
A source in the government conceded that the chief minister as also the leaders of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi are extremely irked by the Governor touring the various districts of Punjab, meeting people directly to listen to their grievances.
The source added that Mann is particularly upset that the governor was addressing the media about the complaints that he has received against the AAP government including the rampant availability of drugs and the use of jails by criminals to plan and commit grave crimes.
From objecting to Mann appointing vice-chancellors of various state universities to questioning the selection of principals to be sent to Singapore for training, Purohit is at loggerheads with the AAP government for the past several months.
In his latest communication on 13 February, Purhit sought information regarding the manner In which the Mann government selected 36 principals of government schools to go for an all-paid trip to Singapore.
However instead of replying to his query, Mann tweeted that he was not accountable to the Governor but to the three crore Punjabis who had elected him.
Chief Minister @BhagwantMann categorically told the Governor that he is answerable only to the people of state and not to any person appointed by the centre. CM unequivocally said that the State Government is not at all responsible to any person appointed by central Government.
— CMO Punjab (@CMOPb) February 13, 2023
The Punjab chief minister also followed up his tweet with a letter addressed to the governor. “You have asked me on what basis the principals are selected for training in Singapore. The people of Punjab want to ask, on what basis are the governors in different states selected by the central government in the absence of any specific qualification in the Indian Constitution? Please increase the knowledge of Punjabis by telling this,” Mann wrote.
Later, the Governor quoted both his tweet and the letter in his Wednesday communication to Mann.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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