Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s visit to border districts has become the latest flashpoint between the governor and the Aam Aadmi Party government in the state.
The confrontation between the Aam Aadmi Party-led government and Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit doesn’t seem to give any sign of mellowing down. A series of face-offs between CM Bhagwant Mann and the Governor hinted that all was not well in the border state.
The latest controversy was kicked off over Purohit’s recent visit to the border districts which, according to him, are vulnerable to the cross-border smuggling of narcotics and illegal arms besides anti-national activities.
Purohit, in his nearly 17-month-long tenure as Punjab governor, has made as many as five visits to the state’s border districts.
The governor has targeted the state government on a variety of issues, including the threat of drugs, which he claims has now entered the state’s schools. Purohit claims that the village headmen have informed him that drugs in the state are being sold like rations and are easily available.
“My biggest worry is that the use of drugs is not limited to the adults but that the state’s young, including the schoolchildren, have also fallen prey,” Governor Banwarilal Purohit said, while adding that even a sizeable number of police were on drugs.
He lauded the BSF and state police for the drug seizures but also claimed that the quantity of drugs reaching the state was much higher than the seizures.
Governor accused of running a parallel government
Banwarilal Purohit’s frequent visits to the border districts have left the AAP-led Punjab government fuming. He has paid as many as five visits to the border districts during the past 17 months.
“I am taking feedback from the villagers and the administration. I have suggested setting up village monitoring committees,” the governor told media people in Pathankot.
Meanwhile, AAP has accused Purohit of running a parallel government in the state.
“It is very unfortunate that the hon’ble governor is not maintaining the sanctity of his post. It is the first time in history that a government has given political speeches. He should have brought the issues to the attention of the CM, but he was trying to run a parallel government against the democratically elected one, said cabinet minister Aman Arora, while adding that the drugs were being smuggled from across the border.
He said that the governor, in order to make political capital, was allegedly trying to destroy democracy.
The governor, while reacting to the allegations, has clearly told the AAP government that he is not a dummy and is raising the issues as the head of the state.
“You just gave me a single instance when I overstepped constitutional authority. I have not been airdropped. I was a member of the legislative Assembly, Parliament, and governor of three states before coming to Punjab,” Banwarilal Purohit said, while denying the allegations.
The five face-offs between AAP and Punjab governor
Interestingly, there were at least five instances during the past six months when the governor either sought clarifications from the state government or rejected various moves.
Purohit has rejected the appointments of the vice chancellors of two universities, including the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHC), Faridkot.
On October 23, 2022, the governor asked Bhagwant Mann to remove the PAU VC, whose appointment, according to him, was illegal.
Purohit also rejected the Bhagwant Mann government’s move to appoint Dr Gurpreet Singh Wander as VC of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences for not following the UGC norms.
“The Supreme Court’s judgements were ignored, and instead of sending me a panel of three candidates, only one name was sent,” said Banwarilal Purohit.
The governor on October 8,2022, took serious note of Bhagwant Mann’s absence from a civic reception hosted in honour of President Droupadi Murmu.
Earlier on September 22, 2022, Purohit had withdrawn permission to summon a special assembly session. AAP protested against Purohit, and CM Bhagwant Maan had termed the decision the ‘murder of democracy’.
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader De Daljit Cheema, while reacting to governor Purohit’s statements, said the observation of the state’s constitutional head was an eye opener.
“The constitutional head of the state had raised many burning issues, including the sale of drugs at shops and growing addiction among children. We were hoping that the chief minister would issue a clarification, but he tried to spill beans on the Union government, saying that it was trying to interfere with the state’s functioning,” he said.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh has also slammed the state government for the deteriorating land-order situation in the state.
“Earlier, one drone was sighted in a month, but now at least three intrusions are being reported per day. I have informed the Prime Minister about this,” he said.