Amid attempts to overthrow the Congressional government in Pondicherry ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit, Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi is sacked by surprise
The plan to overthrow the Pondicherry government before the visit of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on February 17 fell flat, but the momentum the destabilization movement had sparked created political uncertainty in the state.
Even as the Congressional government led by V. Narayanasamy plunged into a crisis after the resignation of deputies from four parties and speculation raged about his fate, what surprised observers was the dismissal of the lieutenant – Governor Kiran Bedi. Out of the blue, on February 16, a statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan said: âThe President ordered that Dr Kiran Bedi cease to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry and appointed Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan as Governor of Telangana. , to exercise the functions of lieutenant governor of Pondicherry, in addition to her own functions, from the date on which she takes charge of her office, until regular arrangements are made for the office of lieutenant -governor of Pondicherry.
The news was greeted with great joy by Congress. Narayanasamy made no secret of his joy in a series of interviews he gave to the media and, later, at a press conference: âIn the past four and a half years, the Lieutenant Governor has acted and behaved in the most disrespectful manner towards the government elected by the people and broke all the rulesâ¦. The number of protests of the Secular Progressive Alliance and their demand for the central government to take back Kiran Bedi has been answeredâ¦. Pondicherry is practically on the mend.
Senior politicians say the lieutenant governor was extremely unpopular and therefore the BJP decided to remove her. Ironically, one of the reasons for its unpopularity was its insistence on upholding the helmet rule in Pondicherry, a city where almost all families have at least one two-wheeler. Most of them do not wear helmets, and when the helmet rule was applied across India, politicians in Pondicherry were unwilling to take a position on the issue.
One politician pointed out that the BJP wanted a trustworthy face and, at the same time, someone who would not engage in a public road of confrontation with the government. Usually at times like these (when the lieutenant governor of Pondicherry is replaced) it is the governor of Tamil Nadu who is given an additional charge. The fact that the governor of Tamil Nadu was not considered himself is instructive: that the BJP’s plans for Pondicherry are continuing. Even if there is a maximum of two months left before the elections, it seems that the BJP is still working on its âMukt Puducherry Congressâ project.
In what seemed like an anti-climax for the BJP, Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Pondicherry seemed like a huge success. According to a congressional leader, people from various walks of life gathered in the streets and invaded the place of Rahul Gandhi’s public meeting. He interacted with different groups of people before the town hall meeting, posed for selfies, and interacted with revelers.
During the public meeting, Rahul Gandhi launched a merciless attack on the BJP and the way it has treated Pondicherry: âFor the past five years Pondicherry has had an elected government. It was a government elected by the citizens of Pondicherryâ¦. But the Prime Minister has not allowed the elected government to function for the past five years. He insulted the vote of the inhabitants of Pondicherryâ¦. Prime Minister Modi repeatedly sends you the message through the office of the lieutenant governor that your vote does not matter. He has told you over and over that the only thing that matters is that he is the Prime Minister of this countryâ¦. A man [Prime Minister Modi] thinks he is not the prime minister, but the king of this country. A prime minister of a country will respect the will of the people. He would give the people the resources that are rightfully theirsâ¦. It is not an electoral battle for us. It is a battle for the spirit of Pondicherry. It’s a struggle for you to live the way you want to.
Membership numbers and role of the lieutenant governor
The election of the Assembly is only in two months, but the calculation of the figures has started: of the 19 deputies in the treasury banks (Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), four deputies of the Congress have resigned so far . In the Chamber of 30 members, the power combine has only 14 deputies. Pondicherry also has three appointed deputies. The three appointed deputies are all from the BJP despite the fact that the BJP has not yet been able to win a single seat in Pondicherry.
It was Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi who unilaterally recommended the names of the three BJP members to be appointed as central government deputies in a show of blatant partisanship. (“Running amok”, Frontline, August 4, 2017). She rejected the protests of the chief minister and the Congress party, saying she had powers equivalent to those of the lieutenant governor of Delhi. Congress and its alliance partner DMK felt it was at the request of the BJP.
With the support of these three unelected MPs, the opposition claimed it had a strength of 14 MPs, the same number as Congress.
NR Rangaswamy, leader of the opposition in the Assembly, called for the resignation of the Congressional government and submitted a letter signed by 14 deputies to the office of the lieutenant governor; Chief Minister Narayanasamy scoffed at suggestions that his party would not be able to survive a vote of confidence; and other congressmen have made it clear that the numbers need to be proven on the floor of the Assembly and nowhere else.