Puducherry Chief Minister Narayanaswamy called the Monday night meeting with Kiran Bedi a “partial success” towards addressing various public issues that have fueled their political face-off.

Six days on Puducherry CM suspends dharna after meeting with LG Kiran Bedi
news Politics Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 08:39

After a six-day political protest that drew attention from across the country, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy has ‘temporarily suspended’ his sit-in agitation in front of the Raj Nivas after a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.

"We are suspending all the agitations slated for the next two days against Kiran Bedi as we could score partial success on various public issues at the meeting we had with her," Narayanasamy reportedly said at a press conference after the meeting. 

The Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor discussed 36 issues that have fueled the political stand-off between the two. Some of the issues addressed at the meeting included old age and widow pension schemes as well as the auctioning of a cooperative sugar mill, according to reports. 

Other agitations, including jail bharo and a fast planned for February 20 and 21 have been suspended as well, he announced.

Earlier on Monday, the Chief Minister had briefed the reporters that considering the welfare of the people of Puducherry, he was accepting Lt Governor Kiran Bedi's invitation for a meeting in the Raj Nivas at 5pm on Monday.

A very public spat

The back and forth exchange of letters between Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister in full public view had elevated the spat to a new level. The issue started when Kiran Bedi published an open letter to the people of Puducherry on her official Twitter handle on Saturday. In her letter, she had detailed the efforts put in by the Governor’s office for the betterment of the people. Detailing the financial prudence that is being practised by the Raj Nivas, Kiran Bedi wrote, “I wish to point out that because of the good administration of Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary and Lieutenant Governor office, money’s were saved to give the poor, rice or else some portion of the money could have been diverted.” She also added that the details of the money was not known to the public but will be made public if the need arises.

In the letter, she also invited the Chief Minister and his cabinet for an open discussion in front of the public at 10 am on February 21, where she said she can present the details about the money saved by her office.

Chief Minister Narayanaswamy responded to this letter on Sunday in which he urged the Lieutenant Governor to stop trying to run a parallel government in the union territory. He also responded to the Lieutenant Governor’s claims of putting in efforts to make Puducherry a better place to live and wrote, “Just because of visiting places and scolding officials, things do not change on the ground. We, the elected representatives, work with the officials and field workers on the ground, round-the-clock, to make our Puducherry, cleaner and greener.”

Accusing Kiran Bedi of being publicity-hungry, Narayanaswamy wrote that such actions are merely noise that can be avoided and that the people of Puducherry are aware of this. “Our experience is that instead of helping Puducherry you have tried to stop many public welfare projects by meeting and talking to Ministries and officers in Delhi,” he wrote, further saying the Lt Governor’s actions are ‘Penny wise and pound foolish.’ He had also accused Kiran Bedi of delaying the release of funds received from the central government.

Further alleging that the measures taken by the Lt Governor’s office have caused more harm than good, the Chief Minister said that Kiran Bedi must understand the limitations of her office when compared to an elected authority.

Chief Minister Narayanaswamy also accepted Kiran Bedi’s invitation to have a meeting at 6 pm on Sunday in Raj Nivas. In another letter written to the Lt Governor on Sunday, the Chief Minister accepted the meeting invitation, but also put a few conditions to be followed in relation to the venue and the attendees to the meeting. He sought the meeting venue to be changed to the conference hall in the Chief Secretariat. “At the time of meeting there shall not be any Consultant/ OSD in the meeting,” he added.

The said meeting, however, did not happen on Sunday and instead another letter from Kiran Bedi slammed the Chief Minister for displaying political motivations behind his sit-in protest in front of Raj Nivas. “It appears to me that you want to stretch this matter unduly as it suits you politically,” she replied.

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