Congress MLAs lash out at Kiran Bedi for ‘autocratic functioning’, ask Centre to rein her

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Puducherry: Openly attacking Lt Governor Kiran Bedi in the backdrop of tense ties with the Congress regime in Puducherry, the ruling party MLAs barring the ministers and the Assembly Speaker on Friday accused her of acting in a “dictatorial style” and sought the Centre’s intervention to rein her.

A day after Bedi cancelled the orders of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy banning use of social media for official
communication, eight of the 15 Congress MLAs in the Union Territory said they have sent a joint memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh complaining about her “publicity mongering” and “rigidly autocratic style of functioning”.

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. ReutersPuducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. Reuters

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. Reuters

“If Puducherry has to be a progressive Union Territory it cannot be retrograde in communications. Hence @CM_Puducherry’s order stands cancelled: @PMOIndia (sic),” Bedi tweeted yesterday, in an escalation of tense ties with the Congress government in Puducherry.

Addressing a joint press conference, the MLAs said Bedi was not acting in coordination with the elected ministry since assuming the office on 29 May last.

Former minister K Lakshminarayanan, the spokesman of the group of MLAs, said they urged Singh to intervene and direct Bedi to “function in conformity with the decisions the elected government takes instead of acting arbitrarily and in a dictatorial style.”

“We have drawn the attention of the Union Home Minister to undemocratic and publicity mongering conduct of Kiran
Bedi,” he said.

Out of the 15 Congress MLAs in the 30-member Assembly, eight addressed the press meet. The other seven legislators are incumbents of constitutional posts such as chief minister, ministers and Speaker.

Asked if they wanted the Centre to recall the Lt Governor, Lakshminarayanan said “We do not make such demand.
We only urge the Union Home Minister to intervene and prevent Kiran Bedi from acting arbitrarily and from contravening all the set rules and regulations and encroaching upon the powers of the elected ministry.”

The memorandum, a copy of which was distributed to media, said that ever since Bedi assumed office “her conduct was in such a nature that it was reminiscent of what Administrator would be like if Puducherry was under President’s rule.”

It said the chief minister with about 25 years of experience as a parliamentarian and Union minister did not
want any collision course with her and desired to have ‘cordial relations’ with the Lt Governor for smooth
functioning of the respective democratic institutions.

“Unfortunately this had not been reciprocated in the proper spirit by the Lt Governor,” the memorandum said, adding the cancellation of the CM’s order against social media usage had sent “an open signal for collision course chosen by Lt Governor against an elected government.

“It was also stated that in the event of any difference of opinion with elected government, the Lt Governor should endeavour to settle by mutual discussions and at the most by making a reference to the Centre to tackle any disagreement as had been laid down in statues.

“But unfortunately from day one Kiran Bedi had been rigidly autocratic and uncompromising in her attitude towards
elected government’s management of the administration giving rise to controversies and drawing criticisms from various sections including political parties,” it said.

The memorandum said her conduct was not conducive for smooth administration of Puducherry and on the contrary “it is unbecoming of a Constitutional authority appointed by the Centre to be the Administrator here”.

It sought directions from Union Home Minister to the Lt Governor “to act in conformity with elected government’s
decisions before the present situation snowballed into a constitutional crisis”.

Besides Lakshminarayanan, the other MLAs who are signatories to the memorandum are Deputy Speaker VP Sivakolundhu, government whip R K R Anandaraman, V Vijayaveny, E Theeppainthan, T Jayamoorthy, N Dhanavelu, and M NR Balan.

The latest friction in the ties between Bedi and the government came after Bedi cancelled the chief minister’s
2 January order banning use of WhatsApp for official communication even as Bedi was pushing with her plan to
promote WhatsApp communication by officials.

She had recently formed a WhatsApp group for exchange of information and details of implementation of various
government schemes with an Officer on Special Duty at Raj Nivas as the group administrator.

The government’s circular was seen as a counter to Bedi suspending a Puducherry Civil Service officer for posting an “obscene” video clip on the WhatsApp group.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 22:33 IST

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