Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led Punjab Government and the state Governor Banwarilal Purohit are once again on a collision course with one another — this time over the issue of drugs. A day after asserting that drugs have entered schools and available like grocery items during his tour to Punjab’s border districts, Purohit on Thursday went on to say that the state’s jails have become “safe havens for mafias”.
Purohit, during his press interaction at Fazilka on the second day of his tour, minced no words to say that the drug situation in the State was a grave concern and he was “worried”. Pointing out that the state’s police force itself was struggling to deal with the drug addiction, Purohit asked the AAP-led State Government to “openly ask for help from the Centre”, in case it was unable to check the illicit flow of drugs. Interestingly, his assertions came in the presence of the state Chief Secretary VK Janjua and state Director General of Police (DGP) Gaurav Yadav.
Hitting back, senior AAP leader and the Cabinet Minister Aman Arora alleged that the Governor was going around making political speeches and running a “parallel government”. He maintained that it was unfortunate that the Governor was not keeping dignity of the post he held.
In his defence, Purohit said: “My interventions are not political. I am the executive head of the state and all orders are given out in my name.”
Notably, the Governor was on a two-day visit of Punjab’s border districts of Amritsarm Pathankot, Fazilka, Ferozepur, among others, from Wednesday. A day before, Purohit had also highlighted the issue of drug menace saying that drugs have permeated into schools too, and available like grocery items.
Governor had stated that he was receiving complaints that some of the youngsters are so severely addicted that they start stealing in their own houses, and their parents felt helpless. “Such youngsters then get involved with (criminal) mafias. Villagers tell me that drugs are easily available just like any other item in a grocery store. The police might not know about it but the villagers do,” he had stated on Wednesday.
Purohit had also said that there’s need to improve security in jails as criminals are running rackets sitting inside and pulled up the authorities concerned, while pointing out that how do mobile phones seized from prisons reach there.
Expressing concern, he said, “Had it been a small thing, would I have been going and touring districts…This should not be taken lightly, we have to stop it at all costs.”
“I say this on their face that the police department is also affected. The jails are not in their control. There is a need for lot of improvement. They put them (criminals) in jails and from there, they control the mafia…,” said the Governor.
Selected Can’t Rule Over Elected Govt: Arora Hits Back
Retorting, Cabinet Minister Aman Arora said: “It is unfortunate that the Governor is not keeping dignity of the post he holds. It has never happened before that the Governor of any state goes around making political speeches…Only for political benefits, you are causing harm to Punjab.”
“If there is any issue, he can bring it to the attention of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. But running a parallel government…It does not happen like this that selected will rule over an elected government,” said Arora.
Lashing out, Arora said that the Governor talks about the drug issue, but from where these contraband items are entering Punjab. “It is either from the international border and who is responsible (for manning the border)? It is the Centre, either these (drugs) are routed from neighbouring state Haryana, where BJP is in power, or in previous days you must have seen drugs are entering Gujarat in large quantities through a port and reaching other parts of the country. Who is responsible, it is the Centre,” he said.
AAP’s state chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, a day before, had stated that the Governor should desist from making political statements. Keeping a tab on illicit drug trade in the border districts was responsibility not just of the Punjab government but also of the Centre, Kang had said, adding that the Governor should try to improve the situation by intervening at the level of the Centre.
Governor vs Govt in Past Too
This is not the first time that the Punjab Governor and the AAP Government have come face-to-face against one-another over issues related to the state and governance.
In the past also, they had been on collision course over several issues ranging from withdrawing his consent to convene special assembly session to turning down the appointment of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor to seeking removal of Dr Satbir Singh Gosal as Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) VC, to returning the ordinances okayed by the Punjab Cabinet, to removal of Punjab-cadre IPS officer Kuldeep Chahal from the coveted post of SSP of UT Chandigarh.