The Puducherry Assembly on Friday passed a resolution for absolute powers to the V Narayanasamy government to check the style of functioning of Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, who said she was bound by law. The passage of the resolution, which in effect seeks to curb the powers of the Lt Governor, was preceded by noisy protests by two opposition AINRC members who came to the defence of Bedi and were later suspended for disrupting the proceedings.
Narayanaswamy took strong exception to Bedi making field visits, calling meetings of officials at the Raj Nivas, holding meetings through video conferencing and sending communications through the social media. Claiming that the Lt Governor had no powers to take any decision arbitrarily, the chief minister said she should act in “consultation and concurrence” of the elected ministry.
In a cryptic reaction to the resolution, Bedi said she was bound by the law. “I have not written the law. I am bound by the law,” she told reporters in Puducherry on Friday night apparently referring to the powers vested in the Lt Governor in the administration of UTs.
The Lt Governor also denied allegations made against her in the past few days by the chief minister and others that she was blocking files. “Whoever says that I am blocking the files, let them first tell which files or which schemes have been suffering hurdles at my end,” she added.
Bedi, who assumed office in May last year, has been involved in tussles with the Congress government on a host of issues. She has been asserting that being the administrator of the UT, she had the powers over administrative matters. Last year, the former IPS officer had even threatened to quit her post and leave the Union Territory over non-cooperation by officials.
The assembly resolution urged the Centre to bring amendments to the Government of Union Territories Act 1963 so that only the elected government in the UT was vested with full powers on administrative matters so that it could look after the welfare of the people.
Initially moved as a private member resolution by AIADMK AMMA MLA A Anbalagan, it was later converted as government sponsored one and declared passed unanimously by Speaker V Vaithilingam. Pressing for absolute powers to the UT government, Narayanasamy referred to the provisions in the Constitution and also the various legislations relating to administration and conduct of business in Puducherry.
He said Puducherry was different from other Union Territories like Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep as it has an elected legislature. Earlier, tabling the resolution, Anbalagan said the tug of war between the Lt Governor and the government was affecting implementation of various welfare schemes.
Ruling Congress member R K R Anandaraman accused Bedi of making “unnecessary and objectionable intervention” in the daily administration. “Bedi seems to be functioning more autocratically than Hitler had done,” he said and charged her with functioning with an “ulterior motive to tarnish the image of the Congress government.”
At this stage, AINRC members Ashok Anand and N S J Jayabal, who literally barged into the House, rebutted the criticism against Bedi. Raising the issue of post-graduate medical admission, in which Bedi had recently intervened, they pointed to Friday’s Madras High Court order which was favourable to students.
Anand attacked the the government for “letting down” the students in the admission issue, a charge denied by the chief minister later. As the Speaker ordered his mike to be switched off, Anand rushed out, returned with a megaphone and continued his criticism of the government.
The assembly marshals, on a directive from the Speaker, snatched the mega phone from Anand. As the Speaker ordered their suspension for the day, Anand threw all papers he had with him in the well of the House and walked out accompanied by his party colleague.
The Speaker ordered that the two AINRC members should not hold any meeting with mediapersons on the assembly premises. Narayanaswamy disputed the criticisms of the AINRC MLAs, saying it was his government which had secured 50 per cent PG seats in private medical colleges for the government quota.
The Speaker adjourned the House sine die, bringing to a close the 23-day budget session during which Bedi’s style of functioning came under criticism on many occasions.