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Amid the ongoing slugfest between Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit and the AAP government, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann said on Thursday that the state government was well within its rights to convene the special assembly session in June. He, however, sought to downplay Purohit’s jibe at him for giving the Independence Day ‘At Home’ function a miss, saying: “He is an elder…”

Purohit, on July 24, had termed the two-day special assembly session as “patently illegal,” based on the legal opinion sought by him. Replying to a question that the assembly’s monsoon session was due and if it would be held, Mann said, “Who can stop the session? Even the previous session was legal. Rajyapal Sa’ab might be having such an adviser… The (budget) session had not been prorogued and adjourned sine-die and could have been continued.”

Asked about the governor’s swipe at him for skipping the ‘At Home’ function, Mann said, “Let him say so… He’s an elder, it doesn’t matter (Chalo, vadde ne, bajurg ne.. keh len do).”

Earlier, in a letter to Mann, Purohit had said that he had taken legal opinion from one of the leading constitutional experts and the expert had stated that the special assembly session, as an extension of the budget session, was patently illegal. Purohit had attached the crux of the legal opinion with his letter.

Meanwhile, Mann asserted that there was no move to go for cabinet expansion. “The buzz is only in the media and there is no proposal to reshuffle the council of ministers… Please don’t create such a sensa

tion. The government is doing well, don’t scare the ministers and MLAs,” he quipped.
The CM said efforts were on to rescue a girl stuck in Malaysia after he received a video. “The embassy will take her into custody and her passport will have to be re-issued. The family she worked for is also Punjabi. We will issue a WhatsApp number for Punjabis stuck abroad. We will offer help after getting in touch with the ministry of external affairs. We are also setting up a help counter at the Delhi Airport,” he said, while making an appeal to families to think before going abroad.On the flood situation, Mann said Punjab had to bear the brunt due to heavy rainfall in Himachal. “We are in touch with the Himachal government and the BBMB and water level in the reservoirs will begin to decrease,” he said.

Mann added that the special girdawari for assessment of flood-related losses was complete in most areas and the victims will be compensated. He added that though there had been no response from the Centre for relaxing norms, the exercise for disbursement of compensation had begun.

On the forthcoming elections of the panchayats in the state, Mann said that to encourage a sense of brotherhood in the villages, if the panchayat is elected unanimously then those villages will get a grant of Rs 5 lakh. “I have seen that there are a lot of fights during panchayat elections and one party leaves no stone unturned to humiliate the other party to get the sarpanch’s post,” he said.

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