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Politics: Is Punjab heading for a Constitutional crisis?

Governor CM Mann on war path again

Differences between Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann are continuing to grow indicating a serious constitutional crisis ahead. The latest in the sore list is the reluctance of the Governor to accede to the Constitutional request of the State Cabinet to convene the Budget session from March 3. Every State and even the Centre are Constitutionally bound to present and pass the annual Financial Bill, better known as Budget, before the end of fiscal on March 31.
The Punjab Cabinet had recommended holding of the Budget session of the State Legislature from March 3 by fixing March 10 as the day for tabling the budgetary proposals on the floor of the Assembly. It is a convention as well as Constitutional requirement for the Governor to address the Assembly by highlighting achievements phi’s government besides highlighting new policies and plans on which the elected government intends to take the State forward.

Punjab Raj Bhavan, the official resudence-cum-office of Governor Banwari Lal Purohit in a recent missive has taken exception to recent tweets of the Chief Minister – of February 13 and 14 –  targeting the Governor seriously.  Holding these tweets in violation of the conventions and accepted norms, the Governor has reportedly sought legal opinion on them from the Constitutional experts. Meanwhile, Raj Bhavan also  withheld permission to convene the Budget session till clarifications on the “disputed tweets” are received from legal experts..

On the other hand, the Punjab Chief Ministers’ Secretariat, too, had decided to seek legal opinion of going ahead with the Budget session in case the permission is delayed any further.

A few weeks before the present controversy, the Governor had questioned the selection of Principals and Headmasters who were sent to Singapore for a week-long training programme. The Chief Minister had dismissed the Governors’ communique as direct interference in the democratic working of an elected government. These discords are nothing new in the sweet and sour relationship between Punjab Raj Bhavan and Chief Ministers’ Secretariat. The growing rift has put question marks on conventions and practices that had been traditionally keeping relations between Raj Bhavan and CM Secretariat  cordial. However, things have changed in recent years as elected leaders of Legislative Assemblies  in non-BJP states have been up in arms against the actions of their Constitutional heads.The proposed session is just a week away.

Prabhjot Singh

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