Chennai: The uproar in Puducherry over the nomination of three individuals from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the legislative assembly is the latest in a series of skirmishes between the elected Congress government and lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi.
On Tuesday night, Bedi administered the oath of office to BJP’s Puducherry president V. Saminathan, party treasurer K.G. Shankar and educationist and BJP member S. Selvaganapathy, as members of the legislative assembly.
Chief minister V. Narayanasamy called it “murder of democracy" and accused the lieutenant governor Bedi for “functioning like an agent of BJP".
Narayanasamy told reporters on Wednesday that the swearing-in that was done with “utmost speed and secrecy betrayed the intention of the BJP and the lieutenant governor to act in utter violation of the statutory procedures."
According to Press Trust of India, Bedi was quoted as saying, on Thursday, “Under the Union Territory bylaws, the Government of India is entitled to nominate three members to the legislative assembly. The section further states that the oath of office can be administered by anybody who has the power. That is what I did."
On 27 June, senior Congress leader and former minister K. Lakshminarayanan moved the Madras high court seeking a direction on the appointment only after consultation and choice of the Puducherry government.
On Wednesday, the high court bench issued notices to the home ministry, chief secretary of Puducherry and the three nominated MLAs.
On Wednesday, Narayanasamy alleged the Centre was using the offices of governors as “BJP headquarters".
“Whether it is Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, West Bengal or Manipur, there is no regard for the elected government," the chief minister said.
The squabble began when the former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer took charge as lieutenant governor in May 2016, and the Congress leader Narayanasamy was sworn in as the chief minister a month later.
Last month, Bedi had alleged corruption and irregularity in medical college admissions in the Union territory, which Narayanasamy challenged her to prove.
In January, Bedi said she will quit on 29 May 2018, when she completes two years in office.
Bedi has attracted criticism from both the ruling and opposition parties in the Union territory.
The ruling Congress and its ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) have called for a complete shutdown on 8 July. Karaikal, which is administered by Puducherry, will go on a strike on 11 July to protest against the lieutenant governor’s actions.
The other political parties—Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), which will also join the strike, have urged the Centre to recall Bedi.
The Union territory has 30 elected members in the assembly. While the ruling Congress has 15 MLAs, its alliance partner the DMK has two.