Puducherry Chief Minister joins issue with Bedi for interfering in temple festival

CM V. Narayanasamy addressing the media on Saturday.  

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Saturday joined issue with Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi over the latter for imposing a last-minute condition on devotees to get COVID-19 negative certificate for Sani Peyarchi darshan at Sri Dharbaranyeswarar temple in Karaikal.

Addressing a press conference in Puducherry, the Chief Minister said the government had taken a decision to hold the festival by following COVID-19 protocols prescribed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in its last communication in November.

Accordingly, the temple authorities launched online bookings around 15 days ago. Around 17,000 online applications were received for darshan. However recently, a person approached the High Court seeking a ban on the festival, citing the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few days ago, the court asked the four respondents, including the Lt. Governor and Secretary in-charge for HRI, to arrive at a consensus on the conduct of the festival after consulting the petitioner, the Chief Minister said.

He said the Lt. Governor held a meeting with the petitioner and other respondents and arrived at certain decisions to conduct the festival in a low-key manner.

“One of the conditions put by the team is to make RT-PCR or antigen tests mandatory for devotees visiting the festival. Putting such a condition at the last minute will cause inconvenience to devotees. The condition should have been made before the online booking started,” he said.

Appealing to the petitioner and respondents to withdraw the condition, the Chief Minister said a devotee had already approached the Madras High Court challenging the need for a COVID-19 negative certificate for darshan. Claiming that Ms. Bedi wanted to stall the festival, he said she should explain why she has taken an “anti-Hindu stance”.

“A secular party like the Congress has questioned Ms. Bedi’s stand. But the BJP, which claims to be the champions of Hinduism, is silent on the issue,” the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Narayanasamy said he wrote a letter to the Lt. Governor on December 25, making the government’s intent clear to hold New Year celebrations as discussed at the State Disaster Management Authority.

The Lt. Governor, in a “predetermined” manner, issued a statement on social media that New Year celebrations on Beach Road would be banned, he claimed. “The Lt. Governor has no independent right to issue any orders or directions according to the Madras High Court judgment,” he said in the letter.

States such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa had not banned New Year celebrations on the beach, considering livelihood means of the people. The Lt. Governor should refrain from interfering in day-to-day administration, the Chief Minister said.

Housing award

The Chief Minister also informed that the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had selected Puducherry as the “Best Performing Union Territory” under special awards in implementing the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The Prime Minister would honour three people from the Union Territory for best house construction under the PMAY scheme.

The Chief Minister said two years ago, with the consent of the Centre, the government re-worked the scheme by involving financial institutions. Beneficiaries could construct houses at a cost of ₹4 lakh, he said.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 8:39:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/puducherry-chief-minister-joins-issue-with-bedi-for-interfering-in-temple-festival/article33426601.ece

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