Punjab Assembly session row: Purohit seeks to remind Mann of his duties
The tussle between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the state's AAP government over the convening of the Assembly session escalated further on Saturday with the former seeking to remind Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann of his duties.
Purohit dashed off a fresh letter to Mann, saying the chief minister's legal advisors were not adequately briefing him. The governor also said it appears the chief minister was "too much angry" with him.
As Punjab joins a growing list of non-BJP ruled states where the government and the governor have witnessed a face-off, the ruling AAP sharpened its attack against Purohit, alleging he is acting at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj also asked Purohit to be mindful of his limits and not cross the "Lakshman rekha".
States like Kerala, West Bengal, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have in the recent past witnessed a governor versus state government battle over a range of issues.
The row between the Raj Bhavan and the AAP government in Punjab escalated on Friday after the governor sought a list on the legislative businesses to be taken up in the proposed Assembly session on Tuesday, sparking a strong reaction from Mann, who said it was "too much".
Purohit had earlier in the week come under fire after he had foiled the state government's plan to summon a special Assembly session on September 22 to bring a "confidence motion".
On Saturday, he wrote to the chief minister and said, "After reading your statements in today's newspapers, it appears to me that perhaps you are 'too much' angry with me."
He further said, "I think your legal advisors are not briefing you adequately. Perhaps, your opinion about me will definitely change after reading the provisions of Article 167 and 168 of the Constitution, which I'm quoting for your ready reference."
While Article 167 defines a chief minister's duties towards the governor, Article 168 speaks about the composition of the state legislature.
On Friday, Mann had openly expressed his unhappiness over the governor's demand, saying his consent before any session of the legislature is a formality.
"Gov (Governor)/Presi (President) consent before any session of Legislature is a formality. In 75 years, no Presi/Gov ever asked list of Legislative business before calling session. Legislative business is decided by BAC (Business Advisory Committee of the House) and Speaker," Mann had said in a tweet.
"Next Gov will ask all speeches also to be approved by him. Its too much."
AAP leader and Punjab Cabinet Minister Aman Arora said his government does not want any confrontation but it will be unacceptable to the ruling party if anyone tries to stop them from exercising their constitutional rights.
Arora accused Purohit of cancelling the earlier special session scheduled for September 22 at the instance of the BJP-led Centre to make the party's "Operation Lotus" a success.
The governor is acting at the behest of the BJP, he alleged addressing the media in Chandigarh.
"A shameful incident took place yesterday, which has not happened in the past 75 years. The governor issued a new letter to the Punjab government to know about the legislative business."
He alleged that the Raj Bhavans in states with non-BJP governments have become places for "hatching conspiracies".
Asked whether the state government will provide the details sought by the governor, Arora said a decision will be taken after the chief minister and the Vidhan Sabha Speaker hold legal consultations.
To a query whether the confidence motion will be moved, he evaded a direct reply. "Just wait for it. Whatever happens will be before you" he said.
Asked if the governor has again denied permission for the Assembly session, Arora said, "Let him do so, we will plan accordingly."
AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj flayed the governor for seeking details of the legislative business.
"The BJP-appointed governor of Punjab is acting as if he is a school principal and elected members of the state Assembly are his students," he charged.
He accused the governor of "interfering" with the state Assembly's work and dubbed his action "against the dignity of democracy".
Democracy will not survive if the governor functions in such a manner, he charged.
"The governor is behaving like the viceroy of Britishers, Lord Mountbatten, dictating what to do and what not.
"We vehemently condemn it. The governor must understand his limits and not cross the Lakshman rekha," he added.