This Article is From Feb 17, 2021

Kiran Bedi Removed As Puducherry Lt Governor Amid Congress Crisis: 10 Points

President Kovind's office said Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan had been asked to take on Ms Bedi's functions, in addition to her own, until a new appointment

Kiran Bedi's removal comes with just weeks to go for Assembly polls in Puducherry (File)

New Delhi: The removal of Kiran Bedi as Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry is "a victory for the people", Chief Minister V Narayanasamy told NDTV late Tuesday night, shortly after Rashtrapati Bhavan withdrew Ms Bedi from the post. The order, which comes as the ruling Congress navigates a crisis of numbers, has been widely seen as a political move by the BJP to negate their rivals' primary campaign platform and further weaken them ahead of elections in May. It also comes hours after a fourth Congress leader resigned from the Assembly, leaving Mr Narayanasamy's government on the brink of collapse. Mr Narayanasamy, however, has dismissed such talk and stressed: "Our government is not in the minority."

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. "It is a victory in our fight for secularism. It is a victory for the people... the people of Puducherry are celebrating the removal of Kiran Bedi," Mr Narayanasamy told NDTV Tuesday night. Mr Naryanasamy and Ms Bedi have waged a long-running feud. He has repeatedly accused her of scuttling Puducherry's development at the behest of the centre.

  2. Mr Narayanasamy also told NDTV the BJP was poaching MLAs and repeating tactics used in other states to "topple democratically-elected governments". "It is public knowledge... people are saying this MLA and that minister has been purchased...," he said. He accused the BJP of planning another "Operation Kamal (lotus)".

  3. Four Congress leaders have resigned so far; a fifth, N Dhanavelou, was disqualified last year for alleged anti-party activities. A Namassivayam and E Theeppainjan resigned last month; both have since joined the BJP. On Monday Malladi Krishna Rao quit, and on Tuesday John Kumar resigned. With these, the Congress lost its thin majority in the Assembly.

  4. Malladi Krishna Rao's move was surprising as he had accompanied the Chief Minister to Delhi last week in what was yet another push to remove Kiran Bedi. On Tuesday night the Chief Minister told NDTV: "We met the President because Malladi Krishna Rao had been harassed by Kiran Bedi several times... she has been trying to create problems."

  5. Mr Rao's resignation was out of irritation with Ms Bedi, Mr Narayanasamy claimed. "He was agitated because Kiran Bedi was blocking his projects. He is still with me. I am confident I can persuade him," he said.

  6. Mr Rao isn't the only Congress leader waiting to walk out of the ruling party (and into the arms of the BJP), Mr Theeppainjan told NDTV Tuesday. He suggested that several members of the ruling party were ready to jump ship. Mr Naryanasamy has slammed such suggestions, attacking the BJP for luring his MLAs with money and false promises.

  7. Mr Namassivayam's switch was also a big blow; the former state Congress chief played a big role in consolidating the party's base in Puducherry. With him, several other leaders and functionaries walked out and crossed over to the BJP, a well-worn script that has played out in several states where defections have brought down governments.

  8. Elections are due by May in Puducherry and neighbouring Tamil Nadu, besides Kerala, West Bengal and Assam. The BJP does not expect much from Tamil Nadu and Kerala at this point, but feels it has a better chance in Puducherry, with the Congress weakened.

  9. Mr Narayanasamy has dismissed any threat from the BJP, saying Puducherry's voters are different. "... (voters) only go for secular parties. They will not support any communal elements. People who join the BJP in Puducherry... their political career will be doomed."

  10. The Congress won 15 Assembly seats in 2016, including that of the Speaker. It took power with support of the DMK and an independent candidate. The opposition AINRC has seven, the AIADMK has four and there are three nominated members of the BJP.

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