Spotlight back on LG, CM turf war

After a lull, the power struggle between Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy has now re-surfaced after the Chief Minister along with his Cabinet colleagues took the turf war to the doorsteps of Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

Ms. Bedi has come out all guns blazing in the wake of reports that a delegation led by the Chief Minister had conveyed to President Pranab Mukherjee its overall unhappiness about her alleged interference in the functioning of an elected government.

Mr. Narayanasamy and his ministers, while paying a courtesy call to Rashtrapathi Bhavan on February 17, reportedly gave Mr. Mukherjee a detailed account on the things that unfolded in the Union Territory after Ms. Bedi assumed charge and “how her style of functioning was undermining the powers of elected representatives.”

Immediately after the reports of the meeting surfaced, Ms. Bedi took to twitter to assert her stand by stating that she could not be a “figurehead” that the elected government had allegedly asked her to be. “It is a challenge for an administrator who encourages collaborative empowerment and financial prudence,” she said.

Ms. Bedi went on to add that she was here to make “better every single day, to correct the past and carry on the right.” She posted on Whatsapp the financial responsibilities the Constitution bestowed upon the Lieutenant Governor. She said “the Lt Governor’s office, unlike full-fledged that of Governors, enjoys no immunity. I can be investigated for negligence too. I am not bound by past practice. I am bound by rules as they exist.”

Ms. Bedi made it clear that she would not like to be “a rubber stamp as the political class expects.”

On the part of ruling Congress, it seems the government had decided not to take things lying down after it found the Lt. Governor giving directions to senior and lower officers without the knowledge of Ministers. “Even we are kept in the dark about administrative matters pertaining to our constituency. We are elected by the people and answerable to them. The Ministers are not allowed to run the department,” said a minister on condition of anonymity.

“We are not running a lame duck government. We will not allow the officers to be bulldozed,” said a ruling party legislator.

For the last couple of days, a shadow turf war was being played out here on the issue of dredging of the Ariankuppam River mouth.

The dredging work was allegedly given to the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) on the directive of the Lt. Governor although the ruling dispensation favoured allotting the work to an agency after floating an open tender.

As the DCI work failed to make any headway in removing the silt, the ruling party and even Opposition legislators came out in the open criticising the Lt. Governor for her “faulty decision.”

The government two weeks ago decided to float another tender to give the work on sub-contract on an emergency basis. The sub-contract route was taken by the government as the tender amount was only around Rs. 3 crore and it need not get the approval of the Lt. Governor.

With no end in sight to the turf war, it would be quite interesting to see how the budget session, which starts with the customary address of the Lt Governor, pans out.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 7:13:08 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/spotlight-back-on-lg-cm-turf-war/article17336260.ece