Saying that a ‘selected’ Governor does not have any moral right to threaten elected representatives, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said on Saturday that Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s ‘threat’ to recommend the imposition of President’s Rule is an insult to 3.5 crore Punjabis, who made unprecedented sacrifices for preserving the unity and integrity of the country, besides making the nation surplus in food grain production.
The Chief Minister categorically said that he is not going to bow down to such threats and will not compromise with the interests of the state and its people.
Speaking to the media here, the Chief Minister said the Governor knows under whose pressure he wrote this letter, which has humiliated Punjabis who had elected their own government more than a year ago with a thumping mandate.
He said the ‘selected’ Governor does not have any moral right to threaten elected representatives of the people or make malicious attempts to topple a democratically-elected government.
Mann also said the Governor has demeaned the Constitution and insulted its chief architect B.R. Ambedkar with such tantrums.
According to the Constitution, the Chief Minister said, people have full right to elect a government of their choice, but the Governors are acting as the puppets of the Union government to create unwanted hindrances in the functioning of non-BJP governments in states like Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Mann said he wants to make it clear to the Governor that the latter has threatened to impose President’s Rule in Punjab under Article 356, but “we are not afraid of it”.
He also said that Punjab has suffered the most due to the misuse of Article 356 in the country.
The Chief Minister expressed disappointment that Punjab has endured the heavy toll of arbitrary actions and mistreatment by previous Union governments, and once again, the current government at the Centre is attempting to undermine the state’s democratic values through the Governor.
He said, in fact, the Governor is conspiring to seize power and that is why he is issuing threats to oust an elected government.
Mann also dared the Governor to try his luck in the upcoming Assembly elections in Rajasthan, rather than trying to capture power through the back door.
The Chief Minister said he has been consistently responding to the Governor’s correspondence, having already replied to nine out of 16 letters.
“The responses to the remaining letters will be dispatched shortly,” Mann said.
However, he expressed concern that the Governor is attempting to exert undue pressure on the elected government in an unconstitutional manner.
Mann said his government has passed six Bills in the Vidhan Sabha over the past year-and-a-half, but the Governor is yet to endorse them, leaving the Bills pending.
Questioning the Governor’s silence on the unresolved issues, the Chief Minister pointed out that the Union government has withheld crores of rupees of Rural Development Fund (RDF) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) allocations, yet the Governor has remained silent on these important matters.
He claimed that the Union government has not paid any attention to the concerns of Punjab’s farmers and it is further alarming that the Governor has not written a single letter to the Centre highlighting the real issues of Punjab.
Regarding a meeting concerning Panjab University, the Chief Minister said the Governor consistently favoured Haryana, indicating a lack of loyalty to Punjabis.
In the same way, as the administrator of Chandigarh, the Governor removed the Senior Superintendent of Police of Punjab cadre posted in the UT overnight besides depriving Punjab of this post for six months.
He also said that the Governor of the neighbouring state of Haryana remained silent about the significant loss of life and property caused by communal violence in Nuh district.
Mann said even in the highly-sensitive Manipur, the Governor of the state hardly paid any attention.
But, on the other hand, the Governor of Punjab is repeatedly poking his nose in day-to-day affairs of the state government and is now shamelessly threatening to topple the government, which is continuously making efforts to safeguard the interests of the people, Mann said.
“It is astonishing that while the state government is working round-the-clock to provide free electricity, quality education, state-of-the-art healthcare service and employment to the youth, the Governor of that state is trying to destabilise it,” the Chief Minister said.
Flagging the issue of compensating the flood-affected people of the state, the Chief Minister said his government has repeatedly urged the Centre to relax the norms for releasing Rs 9,660 crore from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to provide much-needed relief to the people of Punjab.
But, regrettably, the Union government has not yet responded positively, he said, adding that the Governor should also talk with the Centre on this pressing matter.