Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy says no to Kiran Bedi's invite for meeting
The dharna by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy against Lt Governor Kiran Bedi outside the Raj Nivas entered the third day on Friday with the former virtually rejecting her invitation for a meeting on February 21 over his demand seeking clearance of 39 government proposals.
Besides Mr Narayanasamy, his ministerial colleagues and MLAs of the ruling Congress and its ally DMK are staging the dharna accusing Ms Bedi of adopting a "negative stand" towards the proposals, including a free rice scheme, awaiting her approval.
"There is absolutely no need for any such meeting. We have placed before her all our proposals and she is quite aware of them," the chief minister told reporters.
Mr Narayanasamy, who has been accusing Ms Bedi of bypassing the elected government, was responding to a question whether he would turn up for the meeting the Lt Governor had scheduled with him at Raj Nivas on February 21 to sort out the issues cited by him for undertaking the dharna.
After making the offer for talks in a letter to Mr Narayanasamy, Ms Bedi, a former IPS officer, had left for New Delhi Thursday and would be back on February 20. Mr Narayanasamy has been insisting that he would not end the dharna till at least some of the proposals were cleared by Ms Bedi.
A large number of Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed in and around the protest venue.
Mr Narayanasamy contended the Lt Governor was aware of all the proposals the government had submitted for her approval and they all are related to welfare schemes, including distribution of free rice and sanctioning of funds for payment of wages to workers in government undertakings.
"In all, 39 proposals were submitted to her (Bedi) for approval. Let her at least give her nod to some of the important proposals which include free rice scheme and grants for the public sector undertakings," he said. Mr Narayanasamy also accused the Centre of using the Lt Governor as a "pawn" to embarrass the elected government in the union territory.
During the day, AICC secretary Sanjay Dutt, in-charge of party affairs in Puducherry, visited Mr Narayanasamy had alleged that Bedi had been impeding the implementation of the welfare measures evolved by the elected government and was a "publicity monger".
Asserting that the Congress would come back to power at the Centre in the coming Lok Sabha elections, he said Ms Bedi would be "replaced in the larger interest of development of Puducherry."
The dharna was being held to protect democratic norms and conventions, he said claiming Ms Bedi had become jittery seeing the "overwhelming support" to it.
The opposition AIADMK sought a special session of the union territory assembly to discuss the current situation.
Talking to reporters, AIADMK legislature wing leader A Anbalagan also said he had written to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him to remove Bedi from the post and give charge of the UT to any of the governors of neighbouring states or to the Administrator of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker V Vaithilingam wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging him to appoint an interim administrator to bring to an end the "unusual and disturbed situation" in Puducherry as the Cabinet has been staging a dharna outside the Raj Nivas since February 13.
In the letter, copies of which were circulated to the media here, he urged Singh to either depute a "responsible representative" of the Home Ministry to Puducherry to resolve the issue or consider appointing an interim administrator who can handle the situation.
Mr Vaithilingam alleged that the administration has been facing "problems due to unnecessary interference by the Lt Governor in the day-to-day functioning".
The Lt Governor and the government headed by Mr Narayanasamy have been at loggerheads over various issues ever since Bedi assumed office in May, 2016. Mr Narayanasamy had led an agitation in front of the Parliament on January 4, demanding that the Centre sanction statehood for Puducherry and recall Bedi.