Just as it looks like that the country has witnessed the worst as far as the relationship between an elected state government and a governor who is a appointee of the central government, are concerned, there comes another low.
While the Congress, during its long and virtually unchallenged rule after the independence, contributed a lot to misusing the office of governor, the current dispensation appears to be doing the same and more with a vengeance.
The framers of the constitution had provided enough checks and balances to the various entities and organs of the state but perhaps they had not visualised that the posts of governor and chief minister would be manned by persons who would show scant respect for the dignity of the office they hold.
It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court had to give a virtual dressing down to the squabbling governor and the chief minister of Punjab.
Under ordinary circumstances these are hard words to be used in the context of the two constitutional authorities but the mockery they had made of their high posts perhaps deserved the harsh tone of the Supreme Court.
With Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann refusing to provide information to the governor on matters of governance and the governor deferring the summoning of the state assembly for budget session, stage was set for the intervention of the Supreme Court.
It did well to tell both the governor and the chief minister to conduct their constitutional duties “with decorum and mature statesmanship”. It said that the “political differences in a democratic polity are acceptable and have to be worked out with a sense of sobriety and maturity without allowing the discourse to degenerate into a race to the bottom”.
The chief minister, in his plea to the Supreme Court, had alleged that the governor had ‘hijacked’ the constitution by deferring the summoning of the state assembly as sought by his council of ministers, the governor had said that the statement of the chief minister involved use of “street language” and he would get it legally examined before summoning the budget session of the state assembly.
The Supreme Court’s bench, comprising the chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, correctly stressed that the “failure of one constitutional authority to fulfil its obligations under a distinct provision of the constitution do not furnish a justification to another to decline to fulfil its own constitutional obligations”.
Evidently all the incidents involving governors and chief ministers involve the non-BJP ruled states.
Former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar was constantly on a war path with the state chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Same is the case in Delhi where the Lt Governor has been frequently taking on the chief minister.
Tamil Nadu Assembly had recently witnessed a new low with the Governor deliberately omitting certain lines from his prepared address to the house and the chief minister taking strong note of it leading to the governor walking out of the Assembly.
The public drama going on in Punjab between the governor and the chief minister is most unfortunate as the border state is facing serious threat backed by forces across the border.
Instead of paying for attention to the developing situation in the state, the two top functionaries of the state are playing with fire and must start working jointly in the best interests of the state and the country.
It is time the state government and the central government work in tandem to see that the state remains safe and is placed on the path of development and progress.
Unemployment and lack of opportunities are the root cause of the problems in Punjab and these must be addressed with due diligence.
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