The trigger for the latest standoff between the LG and the CM in Puducherry is with regard to the enforcement of the helmet rule.

Puducherry CM continues to protest outside LG Kiran Bedis office for second day
news Politics Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 15:04

On day two of the protests led by Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy against Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, the latter has reacted to the sit-in protest held outside the Raj Nivas, her official residence in the Union Territory. Speaking at the Think Edu Conclave held by the New Indian Express in Chennai on Thursday, Bedi accused Chief Minister Narayanasamy of committing contempt of court by not enforcing the helmet rule – the trigger for the latest standoff between the LG and the CM.

“Wearing a helmet is a Supreme Court directive. The Madras High Court has also said that if a person dies without wearing the helmet, non-enforcement of the rule is abetment to crime. The Chief Minister is committing contempt of court here. I am only doing my job,” Bedi said on Thursday.

The helmet rule is a bone of contention between Bedi and the Puducherry government and one of the five reasons for the latter organising the protest. While the government decided to spread awareness among people before enforcing the helmet rule, Bedi had asked for immediate enforcement, which led to the Chief Minister alleging interference in administrative issues from the Lieutenant Governor.

Bedi went on to make a personal remark on Chief Minister. “His own wife died in a road accident, I am told.  He himself is a victim and he is getting in the way of people wearing their helmets,” Bedi added.

She also stated that the Chief Minister could have waited before staging a protest against her.  

“He wrote me a letter raising issues that don't exist. He wrote to me on February 7 and I got it on February 8. Today is February 14. It has 36 points. He never said in his letter that he will do a dharna if I don't reply by February 13. Should he not have waited for a reply?  It’s a three-page reply on February 7 and demands a reply…is this the right way?” she asked.

The LG had written to Narayanasamy on Wednesday inviting him for a meeting on February 21.

Bedi, in her letter to Narayanasamy, said: "All matters you had mentioned in the letter need an examination for a considered response. Needless to say, none of the issues are pending at Raj Nivas (as being alleged). Besides, you never said in your letter that unless you get a reply by February 13, you and your colleagues shall come and sit on a dharna outside."

"However, I invite you for a detailed discussion on your matters on February 21 at 10 a.m. Please confirm," Bedi said.

Meanwhile, 4 battalions of Rapid Force personnel were dispatched from Avadi and Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu to control the law and order situation in Puducherry. The battalions reached at 7 am on Thursday.

Thursday is the second day of sit-in protest organised Puducherry CM Narayanaswamy against Kiran Bedi. The main reason for the protests was alleged interference by the LG in Puducherry’s administration. Among the 40 odd protestors currently sitting before the Gates of the Raj Nivas are CM Narayanaswamy, fully clad in black, Public works Minister A Namassivyam, Health, Tourism, Aviation and Fisheries Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, Industries and Transport Minister Shahjahan, Education and Agriculture Minister Kandasamy and MLAs from DMK and INC are also protesting outside the Raj Nivas. They demand an assurance from the Lieutenant Governor that she will not interfere in administrative issues of the city.

DMK chief MK Stalin also came out in support of the Puducherry CM, taking to Twitter to say, “The abnormal situation in Pondicherry caused by the LT governor is totally against the law. This is an example of BJP turning the Governors into their party's general secretaries. Question arises again if governor post is necessary at all.” 

The main trigger points of the protests are all related to public welfare schemes begun by the government. The Chief Minister had alleged that Bedi attempted to stall the free rice and free Pongal schemes where 20 kgs of rice is distributed to every ration card holder per month and free rice as well as saris and dhotis are doled out to members of the SC/ST community during Pongal and Diwali. The Chief Minister said that Bedi wanted this scheme to be discontinued and people to be handed out money instead.

He also accused Bedi of creating problems in the long-held government policy of paying 95 of the salary of unaided school teachers. 

(With inputs from Priyanka Thirumurthy) 

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