Chief Minister never discusses the issue with me: Lt. Governor
The 82-year-old Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Virendra Kataria, who underwent a coronary bypass last month, may appear to be frail but he is hard hitting when it comes to expressing views on issues such as law and order.
He does not spare Chief Minister N. Rangasamy either who, the Lt. Governor says, has never discussed with him the issue of law and order, despite making frequent visits to Raj Nivas, the official residence of Mr Kataria.
In an interview to The Hindu for over 45 minutes on Wednesday, Mr. Kataria, who assumed office in July, made public his displeasure over the law and order situation in Puducherry. Pointing out that he was keeping abreast of the situation by going through newspaper reports, he said: “I don’t feel any substantial improvement in the law and order situation. Anti-social elements are [active] as usual as ever before.”
Responding to a question on his summoning Inspector General of Police (IGP) R.S. Krishnia recently and discussing the matter with the police official, the Lt. Governor said the IGP had presented him a “rosy picture.”
But, “the situation on the ground is totally different,” Mr Kataria said, adding that in two weeks, “very stringent action” would be taken to give a feeling of ‘terror’ among ‘terrorists’ [anti-social elements].
To meet Home Minister
The Lt. Governor recalled that originally, a meeting was to be held on August 11 at the Raj Nivas with Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami. “But, unfortunately, I had to be operated upon on August 10 and then the meeting was shifted to New Delhi.” He did not know the nature of the briefing given to the Home Secretary by Puducherry Chief Secretary Chetan B. Sanghi and the IGP.
To a question regarding the Home Ministry seeking a report on L&O situation, he replied that it had not come to his notice.
On the perception of nexus between a section of police officials and criminals in Puducherry, he asked, “Do you think that there is any doubt about it?”
Mr Kataria, who was a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) during 1992-1998 representing the Congress party, went on to say that he would meet Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde shortly to apprise him of the ground reality and suggest measures to bring back “rule of law in Puducherry.” He added that he would try to assess the situation himself.
Ties with CM
Asked whether he discussed the situation with the Chief Minister, the Lt. Governor, who headed the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee about 15 years ago, replied that when Mr Rangasamy called on him a few days ago, he [Mr Kataria] advised him that it would benefit the Chief Minister politically if strong action was taken against the rowdies. But, Mr Rangasamy had never raised the matter of law and order with him, Mr. Kataria noted, adding that “whenever he [Mr Rangasamy] visits here [Raj Nivas], he comes for different purposes.”
To a question what should be done to rein in the anti-social elements, the Lt Governor said they should be booked under stringent sections of IPC and every effort should be made to ensure that “they do not get bail as they are getting now.” There should be no political consideration in this regard.
Talking about himself, Mr Kataria said “As long as I am here, I will discharge my duty and responsibility honestly for the welfare of people of Puducherry. I have no consideration about the constituencies from where the rowdies hail. A rowdy is a rowdy. Nobody will be spared.”
As the interview was about to conclude, the Lt. Governor was asked whether there was any need for extraordinary intervention by the Centre. His answer was sharp. Whatever measures need to be taken would be taken. "No political consideration at all. I assure you that I know my job.”