- Dr Kiran Bedi's attitude is undemocratic, says Puducherry Chief Minister.
- PM conspiring with Dr Bedi to merge Puducherry with Tamil Nadu, he says.
- Chief Minister Narayanaswamy sleeps on road for third straight day.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has literally hit the road demanding the removal of Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi as he camped in protest on a road near her official residence for the third day in a trot. The intensification of the long-standing feud between the two governing authorities of the Union Territory comes months ahead of the assembly election scheduled for May.
Accusing Ms Bedi of scuttling Puducherry's development at the Centre's behest and citing her "undemocratic style of functioning", Mr Narayanasamy, who heads its Secular Democratic Front alliance government, began his protest on Friday. Sleeping on Anna Salai, a kilometre away from her residence, he has been joined by many others such as Puducherry Congress chief, ministerial colleagues, and MLAs. The CPM and CPI, too, have joined his protest.
Raj Nivas, the Lieutenant Governor's official residence, is heavily guarded by paramilitary forces. He was denied permission to carry out the protest near there citing Covid-19 restrictions.
"This is a not a new demand. Even in 2019 December, we sat in dharna in front of the Raj Bhavan...for the recall of Dr Kiran Bedi," Mr Narayanaswamy told NDTV.
"Now it has peaked. She is now returning files, overruling the decision of the cabinet, overruling the decision of the minister. This is not the job of the Lieutenant Governor...she has no independent power or authority," he said. "She has no respect for law or constitution. She is the constitution herself."
He cited examples such her alleged blocking of the government's Pongal gift to the people, wherein, instead of the Rs1,000 planned, only Rs200 was allowed to be disbursed.
Mr Narayanasamy has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove Ms Bedi, saying she has been stalling welfare measures. He also accused the Prime Minister and Ms Bedi of conspiring to merge Puducherry with Tamil Nadu.
"Continuance of Dr Kiran Bedi here will hamper the growth and development of Puducherry. She is affecting the fundamental rights of the people of the state. It has been her attitude right from the beginning, even when she was Delhi police commissioner," Mr Narayanasamy said.
"Because it is a Congress-DMK government here, the Prime Minister is not taking any step. Therefore, we are doing this agitation in a peaceful manner...But she is afraid of facing us. When we sat on a dharna in 2019, she ran away to Delhi," he said.
Mr Narayanasamy has frequently clashed with Lieutenant Governor Bedi ever since she was appointed to the post in 2016, particularly over administrative matters and the delineation of powers between the two offices.