The standoff between Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi is showing no sign of coming to an end as the CM’s dharna outside Bedi’s home Raj Nivas entered the fifth day on Sunday. Narayanasamy has warned that it would escalate into a ‘jail bharo’ agitation from February 20.
The chief minister has been on a ‘dharna’ outside Raj Nivas demanding the Lt Governor’s approval for his government’s proposals on welfare schemes and administrative matters in the union territory, near Chennai. Narayanasamy, in a statement to news agency PTI, said, “Our protest will continue till our demands, contained in the letter sent to the lt governor on February 7, are met.”
Narayanasamy, who began the sit-in with his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday morning, accused Bedi of not approving his government’s 39 proposals for welfare schemes, including a free rice scheme, apart from other administrative matters.
“We will launch a ‘jail bharo’ agitation on February 20 by holding protests in front of central government institutions and will observe fast outside the Head Post Office on February 21,” he said.
In a letter to the chief minister, Bedi responded sharply to his protest, terming his dharna ‘unlawful’. She agreed to discuss all the issues raised by him at a public forum on February 21.
On Sunday, the chief minister accompanied by his cabinet and leaders of the ruling coalition hoisted black flags atop their residences as part of their protest against Bedi.
“It is unfortunate that we have been pushed to the necessity of hoisting black flags to show our protest,” Narayanasamy was quoted by PTI as saying. He accepted Bedi’s offer to discuss the sticking points “as per her choice of the venue and time”.
Claiming that Bedi had “threatened” to take the protesters to task, he had said, “We will not be cowed down by such threats and we are prepared even to court arrest”.
The chief minister said leaders of the coalition partners would write letters to the president, the prime minister and the Union home minister, urging them to “recall” the LG.
He also accused Bedi of spending government funds on attending private functions in Delhi although the former IPS officer “has been making tall claims that austerity should be observed in public life”.
Bedi who is visiting Delhi has cut her trip short and is scheduled to return to Puducherry on February 20. Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed outside Raj Nivas and in other sensitive areas in Puducherry for a week.
This is not the first instance since the two have had a duel over administrative matters, especially since Bedi was appointed as LG in May 2016.
(With inputs from PTI)