The rift between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been highlighted yet again.
Responding to the chief minister’s request for intervention in getting the stalled Rural Development Fund (RDF) from the Centre, the Governor asked him to wait for the Supreme Court’s judgement as the matter is sub judice.
The matter is already in the Supreme Court, with the Punjab government filing a petition against the Centre for not paying the RDF to the state on 5 July.
Governor seeks debt details
On Thursday, 21 September, Mann wrote to seek his intervention in getting the pending RDF — amounting to ₹5,637 crore — from the Centre.
The Governor wrote back stating that “it would be appropriate to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision before anything is done on the issue”.
In his letter, the Governor not only indicated that he would not intervene but also asked the Punjab chief minister to furnish details of ₹50,000 crore added to the debt of the state during his tenure.
“I have learnt that the debt of Punjab rose by about ₹50,000 crore during your regime. Details of the utilisation of this huge amount may be furnished to me so that I will be able to convince the Prime Minister that the money has been properly utilised. I would like to convey that I am duty-bound to serve the people of Punjab. I have learnt from media reports that you have already approached the Honourable Supreme Court of India before approaching me. It would be appropriate to wait for the decision of the highest court before anything is done on the issue,” read the letter.
Mann’s feud with Governor
Mann had written to the Governor seeking his intervention to get the pending amount from the Centre in the form of RDF, although without mentioning that the state had already moved the apex court on the issue.
Mann had stated that with the Centre withholding the RDF, the Punjab Mandi Board was not able to repay loans taken for development works. He had stated that the state was procuring grains for the Centre and was levying Rural Development Fee from the Centre.
The correspondence between the Governor and Chief Minister resumed after a couple of weeks. The last time, the Governor had threatened Mann with writing to the President of India to impose President’s Rule in the state. He had stated that Mann was not responding to any questions raised by him and this was unconstitutional.
As the confrontation between the duo escalated, the Governor stopped writing letters to the chief minsiter. Mann had then started responding to his previous letters amid reports of a thaw in the relationship.