After Kiran Bedi’s summary removal from the post of Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy can now heave a sigh of relief. But, can he manage to stop leaders exiting the Congress party is the major question foremost in the minds of the people and political parties of the UT.
According to the DMK, the Congress ally in the UT, the Chief Minister will be able to prevent party leaders from shifting their loyalties.
“The leaders who resigned and joined BJP are the ones, who have some black mark on them. With Bedi’s removal, Narayanasamy need not fear anymore. Hope no other Congress leader resigns after this,” said DMK MLA K Venkatesan.
The DMK in Puducherry had not participated in the protest staged by Congress against Bedi in January this year. One of the reasons the party had cited for distancing itself from the protest and suggesting to the DMK top brass to drop the Congress as an alliance partner was Narayanasamy government’s lack of guts to stand up against the Lt Governor. Also, because the government is expected to face the anti-incumbency factor in the upcoming assembly elections.
“The situation has changed now. Our leader MK Stalin has welcomed the removal of Bedi from the Lt Governor’s post. There is no rupture in the alliance. We will contest the election together,” he added.
“As of now, both the government and the Opposition are in equal strength, but we expect to have a floor test around February 25,” Venkatesan said.
Appointed by the Centre in 2016 as Lt Governor, Bedi in the earlier days of her tenure, acted like any other Governor in the country. It was expected that the gubernatorial office would extend its support to the smooth running of the government. But, within a short span of time, Bedi proved to be BJP’s man Friday. The ruling Congress had alleged that her office operated as headquarters of the saffron party.
The first-ever clash started between Bedi and Narayanasamy over the three BJP nominated MLAs taking oath at her residence at night, despite the UT government’s opposition against the move. From then on, Bedi allegedly started to interfere in the UT administration particularly in relation to people’s welfare schemes like reservation, public distribution system, filling up of government vacancies etc., being carried out by the Narayanasamy government.
To protest against her meddling, Narayanasamy had a six-day dharna in February 2019. Though it created a lot of commotion since the UT had never witnessed such scenes, the dharna failed to bear any positive results. Bedi continued to show reluctance in cooperating with the government. In January this year, once again, Narayanasamy staged a demonstration opposing Bedi.
Meanwhile, the Congress was inflicted with inner party rivalry. Out of the 33 member assembly, the party had 15 members including Narayanasamy and had majority. Out of which, four — A Namassivayam, E Theeppainthan, Malladi Krishna Rao and A John Kumar have resigned and exited the party, and one – N Dhanavelou was disqualified. Namassivayam and Theeppainthan joined the BJP camp, with even Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeting a photo with the new members along with BJP party president JP Nadda in New Delhi. So, the party strength now stands at 10, including Narayanasamy. Besides, three DMK and one independent MLA are with the Congress and, hence, the alliance has 14 members.
NR Congress founder and the Leader of Opposition, N Rangaswamy, who heads a delegation of Opposition parties with 14 MLAs has demanded the CM to prove the majority.
Meanwhile, S Ramachandran, secretariat member, CPM – Puducherry, commented that the removal of Bedi raises more doubt than bring relief.
“There may be another ulterior motive for BJP to remove Bedi, at a time when Rahul Gandhi is visiting the UT. In the matter of the MLAs leaving the Congress party, it is not only happening here or not only happening only to that party. This kind of shifting loyalties is happening across the country. We should worry that those who change their camp not only stab their party but also disrespect the people. Only proportional representation can end such political games,” he said.