Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Friday warned Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann that he could recommend the president’s rule in the state and initiate criminal proceedings if his letters are not answered.

In a letter to the chief minister, Purohit said that he is pained to point out that there is reason to believe that there is a failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.

Purohit advised Mann to act before he takes a “final decision” under Article 356 of the Constitution and Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code.

President’s rule is imposed in a state under Article 356 of the Constitution, usually on the recommendation of the governor. Section 124 relates to assaulting or wrongfully restraining the president or a governor from exercising their lawful powers.

“Before I am going to take a final decision…I ask you to send me the requisite information sought under my letters, as also in the matter of the steps taken by you concerning the problem of drugs in the state, failing which I would have no choice but to take action according to law and the Constitution,” the governor wrote in the letter.

Purohit and Mann have been at loggerheads on several issues since the latter took office in March last year, including the appointment of vice-chancellors, the convening of special Assembly sessions and Mann’s absence from official functions.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to interfere in the functioning of governments in states where it is not in power.

“The governor should maintain decorum and he should not give a threat of Article 356,” Kang told PTI. “If they want to impose president’s rule then it should be done in Manipur and Haryana.”

In his letter, Purohit said it appears that the chief minister is “deliberately refusing” to give the information sought by him. He also took objections to some of the “derogatory words” used by Mann against him in the Punjab Assembly in June.

“Far from supplying the information sought by me, you have exhibited an absence of grace and decorum when you proceeded to make unnecessary and unwarranted observations demonstrating what may only be described as extreme animosity and personal prejudice against me personally, as also the office of the governor,” the letter continued.

The governor claimed he had received reports from various agencies regarding rampant availability and abuse of drugs in Punjab.

“It is common knowledge that they are available in chemist shops, a new trend is observed that they are being sold in the government-controlled liquor vends,” Purohit wrote. “...These facts point out to the breaking down of the law and order system in Punjab so much so that now villagers have started protest on the streets in large numbers and decided to set up their own village defence committees to protect themselves from drugs.”

The governor added that it is his duty under the Constitution to ensure that the administration carries out efficient work and that the state government’s proposals are not contrary to the law.

“I have, therefore, to advise you, warn you and ask you to respond to my letters referred to above and give me the information sought by me,” he added.