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Puducherry CM, Ministers Begin Dharna Outside Governor’s Residence

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Puducherry: Stepping up the attack on Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy began a dharna with his ministerial colleagues outside Raj Nivas, demanding that she accord sanction for 39 government proposals, including a free rice scheme.

The Chief Minister’s action invited a sharp response from Bedi, who shot off a letter to him, terming his protest as ‘unlawful’.

“Instead of waiting for my response to your February 7 letter, you have come to Raj Nivas, demanding a reply in this unlawful manner,” she said.

“This method (sitting in dharna) is unheard of from a person of your position,” the Lt Governor said in the letter, which was hand delivered to the chief minister.
Bedi invited Narayanasamy for a detailed discussion on February 21 at Raj Nivas.

The Lt Governor said all the issues Narayanasamy had mentioned in his letter needed examination for a ‘considered response’ and claimed that nothing was pending at the Raj Nivas, as alleged.

She noted that the Chief Minister had never said in his letter that he and his colleagues would begin a dharna in front of Raj Nivas unless a reply was obtained by February 13.

A copy of the letter was sent by Whatsapp to reporters later.

In another development, the Speaker V Vaithilingam also joined the dharna later in the evening.

Narayanasamy however told reporters that the Speaker had come ‘to felicitate our peaceful protest’.

The Chief Minister was seen clearing official files at the venue of the agitation.

Congress and DMK MLAs are also participating in the protest outside the Raj Nivas, the official office cum residence of the Lt Governor.

Sporting black shirts, they squatted on the road outside Raj Nivas, protesting against her ‘negative stand’ in rejecting files on various matters sent to her for approval.

The Chief Minister told reporters that they took strong exception to the “continued rejection of government proposals to ameliorate the lot of the poor and have-nots”.

Narayanasamy said Bedi’s recent decision to make helmet wearing mandatory without generating awareness among two wheeler riders, as proposed by the government “is a clear case of her going her way and causing harassment to the people”.

He alleged that the Lt Governor had not approved 39 government proposals, sent to her for approval since the last few weeks.

He cited various instances, including implementation of the free rice scheme, grants to privately managed educational institutions, sanction of funds for government undertakings and implementation of various welfare schemes for Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and OBCs which were stalled by the Lt Governor though funds were earmarked in the budget for them.

“Kiran Bedi should mend her ways and sanction her approval to our decisions. If she wants, she can contest an election in Puducherry”, the Chief Minister said.

All the Ministers A Namassivayam, M O H F Shah Jahan, M Kandasamy, Malladi Krishna Rao and R Kamalakannan, DMK MLA R Siva and those from the Congress were among those who participated in the dharna.

Narayanasamy insisted that they would leave the venue only after getting a positive reply from the Lt Governor that she would concede to all their proposals.

Asked if he would hold discussions with Bedi, he shot back “why should we? Let her come here and hold talks with us”.

The Chief Minister had led an agitation in front of Parliament in Delhi on January 4, pushing for the demand that the Centre sanction statehood for Puducherry and to replace Kiran Bedi as Lt Governor.

The Lt Governor andthe government headed by Narayanasamy had been at loggerheads over various issues ever since Bedi assumed office in May 2016.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta





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