Gang Up For Puducherry, Not Against Me: Kiran Bedi's Message To Lawmakers

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Kiran Bedi has come under attack from the Congress government but is standing her ground.


PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Congress Chief Minister V Narayanasamy have been shadow-boxing for most of the last 10 months. But a crisis may just be around the corner.

Ms Bedi has asked the Union Home Ministry to take action against Chief Secretary Manoj Parida for removing Puducherry municipal commissioner following the orders of Assembly Speaker. The Lieutenant Governor says only Raj Niwas can transfer officials and has asked the Chief Secretary to ignore the Speaker's ruling.

Chief Minister Narayanasamy, however, has backed Speaker V Vaithilingam's decision - made after a spat between the commissioner and a lawmaker -- and rallied support from lawmakers across party lines.

The Lieutenant Governor told NDTV that the Speaker did not have the power to transfer of officials. "The Speaker ought to have routed the transfer order through me," she said.

Ms Bedi has complained to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi about the Chief Secretary's "condemnable conduct". According to her, Mr Mehrishi too told the commissioner that he should not have issued the transfer letter without getting the Lt-Governor's approval.

"I have asked for departmental action... because he has committed a serious violation," she said.

Chief Minister Narayanasamy has been quick to defend the Chief Secretary. "I need not consult Lt Governor when I enforce the Speaker's ruling but the Lt Governor must consult me when she appoints someone," he said recently, pointing that the top bureaucrat had only followed his orders. This week lawmakers met and demanded Ms Bedi's recall.

Ms Bedi said she didn't mind the politicians ganging up but hoped they did it for Puducherry's benefit, not to target an outsider who was trying to make a difference.

Mr Vaithiliangam, however, insisted that the Lt Governor was bound by the Speaker's ruling, even if it was wrong. "Even assuming I'm wrong in matters of privillege motions the Lieutenant Governor has to obey the Speaker's ruling, can't violate . There's no second thinking," he told NDTV.

Ms Bedi, a senior police officer who quit service after being overlooked for the post of Delhi Police chief, had joined the BJP and was the party's candidate for the Chief Minister's post during the 2015 assembly elections.

In many ways, the Narayanasamy-Bedi slugfest in Puducherry - both assumed office in May last year - replicates the tug-of-war between the Aam Aadmi Party-led government and the Delhi's Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, and now, Anil Baijal.

There were red faces in the Puducherry government in January this year when Ms Bedi cancelled Mr Narayanasamy's order to officials that they should not use WhatsApp to communicate official matters. Ms Bedi has already made it clear on more than one occasion that the Congress government wanted her to be just a "figurehead" but she would not back down.


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