After six days of sit-in protest in front of Raj Nivas, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy called off his protest on Monday, February 18, claiming “partial success” after Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi finally agreed to meet him and accepted a few of his demands. While Bedi had earlier agreed to meet the CM and his cabinet ministers on February 21, she was forced to prepone her schedule after the ruling party leaders warned to transform their protest into a ‘jail bharo’ agitation.
On February 7, Narayanasamy wrote an open letter to Kiran Bedi asking her to stop interfering in the Union Territory’s government under Congress and also appealed her to sanction 39 government proposals including a free rice scheme to the poor and pension scheme for elderly people. Receiving no response from the other side, the CM began his protest on February 13, in front of the LG’s residence requesting a meeting for the sake of administration.
“We are suspending all the agitations slated for the next two days against Kiran Bedi as we could score partial success on various public issues at the meeting we had with her,” Narayanasamy told media after his meeting with the LG on Monday.
Meanwhile, Kiran Bedi got trolled by Twitter users for allegedly making racist and discriminating comments in her tweets on Monday, accusing her of targeting “the dark skin tone” of Tamilians in general and the CM in particular, before she went for the meeting.
Even though she is yet to resolve the latest controversy on Twitter, she has been at loggerheads with the Pondicherry government for the last two and half years, since she was appointed as the LG by the BJP-led central government.
Bedi Undermined SC Judgement?
But, did Kiran Bedi “obstruct” Puducherry’s governance? Significant to this question is a Supreme Court judgement dated July 4, 2018, which clarified the powers of an LG and the elected governments of union territories. Operatively, what the Court said was that the LG, as the representative of the central government, should not behave in an ‘obstructionist’ manner and should go by the advice of the council of ministers and that the elected government’s decisions would prevail in all matters except land, police and public order.
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The spirit of the apex court’s order appears to be undermined considering the number of allegations raised by the Pondicherry government against Bedi.
Last month, Narayanasamy claimed that Kiran Bedi was interfering in the day-to-day administration matters of the elected government creating hurdles and lodged a complaint with the President stating the manner of Bedi’s functioning as “abuse of Power” and as an attempt to override the elected government.
In October last year, Narayanasamy had demanded a judicial probe against Bedi for her involvement in “unauthorised” mobilisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for desilting lakes.
It should be noted that there have been several instances when Bedi has ridiculed the Tamil language in public spaces. The latest fiasco leaves the former IPS officer and anti-corruption activist turned BJP leader, who was eventually nominated to the position of LG, with several questions to answer, the most significant question being, “Is Kiran Bedi holding the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment while exercising her powers as LG or is there some BJP angle in it?”