The bitter turf war between Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi on a plethora of issues intensified in Puducherry in 2017.
The bitter turf war between Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi on a plethora of issues intensified in Puducherry in 2017. Introduction of a direct daily flight to and from Hyderabad coinciding with the 56th Liberation Day of Puducherry and launching of a Smart City Development Limited in October to implement the Centre’s Rs 1,800 crore Smart City Project for making the former French colony an international tourist destination were some of the positive developments during the year. Principal Secretary (PWD) of the Delhi government Ashwani Kumar was appointed as the chief secretary of Puducherry in November and incumbent Manoj Parida was shifted to the national capital. Gurmeet Singh, a professor of chemistry in Delhi University, assumed the office of Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry University in November replacing acting VC Anisa Basheer Khan. However, the issue of differences between Bedi and Narayanasamy kept the state in news.
On July 4, Bedi inducted three members of the BJP as nominated legislators on July 4 in her office Raj Nivas after Speaker V Vaithilingam allegedly declined to recognise their nomination on the ground that there was “no official communication to his office from a competent authority”. A strong protest erupted with the ruling Congress and its alliance partner, the DMK, and some other parties raising a banner of revolt against the Centre for “arbitrarily deciding the names of the three nominated members without any recommendation from the state government”.
The Congress, the DMK and a number of other parties organised a bandh on July 7 which was followed by a day-long closedown on July 8 to protest against the nominations. The parties alleged that Bedi was functioning like “an agent of the BJP” and was interfering in the routine functioning of the elected government.
The issue of appointment of the nominated legislators is now pending for disposal before the Madras High Court following a petition filed by a ruling Congress MLA challenging it. Apart from the strong objection of Narayanasamy and his colleagues over Bedi’s “style of functioning”, a resolution was brought in by the opposition AIADMK in the assembly to urge the Centre to rein in the Lt Governor. It was converted into an official resolution and was adopted unanimously by the House.
There were also differences between Bedi and the government on several other issues.
Bedi pointed an accusing finger against the authorities charging them of finalising students for MBBS and PG courses in private medical colleges by violating rules. She also sought a probe by the CBI into the modalities adopted for admission to medical colleges and two IAS officers of Puducherry and a few other officials were booked by the CBI in connection with the alleged irregularities in the admission process.
Bedi also continued with her weekend visits to rural, urban and semi-urban areas to see for herself the “lack of amenities” and listen to the grievances of the locals. These visits also evoked strong protests by legislators of the ruling Congress and its alliance partners.
Unfazed, she asserted the purpose of the visits was to ensure that the funds earmarked for development are spent without any room for deficiency or shortcomings. The opposition AIADMK spared no forum to point out that there were serious financial constraints and these should be overcome through judicious planning.
The Lt Governor came forward with a slew of austerity measures to ensure conservation of money. She banned business class flight travel by all officials as “a severe financial crisis is prevailing in Puducherry”. She said that this ban “is applicable for all without any exception”.
The Lt Governor`s intervention to restore to the legally entitled owners residential plots and houses allegedly encroached upon by some anti-social elements in Thattanchavady block here was another important highlight of the year. Bedi also introduced the official website of her office besides open house sessions to receive complaints from the public and to address them without loss of time.
Another year is about to end without the Union Territory witnessing panchayat polls.