The strained ties between Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi reached a crescendo on Wednesday after the CM began an indefinite protest in front of Raj Nivas, the residence of the L-G. The duo has been at loggerheads over several issues, most recently, mandating helmets for two-wheeler riders in the Union Territory.
The CM also claims that the L-G is interfering in the functioning of the government and stalled development in the state as several proposals are pending with her office. His dharna has been supported by Cabinet ministers, Congress and DMK MLAs, who are also participating in the sit-in.
On Wednesday evening, the L-G said the CM has created an “unlawful situation” and a “huge inconvenience for the public” with his dharna. The CM, in response, said he was holding a peaceful people’s movement against Bedi’s “continuous acts of high-handed dictatorship”.
— CMO Puducherry (@CMPuducherry) February 14, 2019
Why is Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy protesting?
Narayanasamy, a Congress leader, has been protesting Kiran Bedi’s decision to mandate helmets for two-wheeler riders in the Union Territory from February 11. Calling it “a clear case of her going her way and causing harassment to the people”, he said he wants to implement the rule only after generating public awareness.
He also claims that 39 government schemes, including a free rice scheme, is pending with the Governor due to her “undemocratic acts and ways of functioning”. He had written to her regarding the same on February 7.
In a letter Wednesday, Narayanaswamy wrote: “I have been raising all these issues regularly either through letters or through the files. I would again reiterate that your various actions of commission and omissions have made the people of Puducherry suffer and caused untold miseries.”
How has Kiran Bedi responded?
Bedi, meanwhile, said that none of the issues raised is pending with her office. She wrote, “Instead of you waiting for my response to your letter (dated February 7) you have instead come to Raj Niwas demanding a reply in this unlawful manner. This method is unheard of from a person of your position.”
Bedi has invited Narayanasamy for talks at 10 am on February 21.
Explained: The role of the Governor
The standoff between the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor resonates with the situation in Delhi, where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Anil Baijal have often locked horns over governance. The Governor, who is appointed by the Centre to keep “checks and balances” in the state, takes over the administration when there is a threat to peace and tranquillity.
When the Constitution was being drafted, Sardar Patel had said that the Governor’s “special powers” would be limited to sending a report to the Union President when “a grave emergency arose, threatening menace to peace and tranquillity”.
The L-G is an “administrator” and is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers.