Week After Puducherry Crisis, A Truce Between Chief Minister, Lt Governor

Week After Puducherry Crisis, A Truce Between Chief Minister, Lt Governor

PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Monday ended his sit-in protest at midnight after a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, saying "partial success" was achieved on various demands. The temporary truce followed a five-hour meeting on the sixth day of the chief minister's protest outside the Raj Niwas demanding the governor's recall. He accuses Kiran Bedi of acting as a "BJP agent" and blocking his government's welfare schemes.

Mr Narayanasamy claimed that Kiran Bedi had agreed to his demands including delegating financial powers to him and his ministers.

"Most of the important issues, including payment of monthly assistance to 10,000 new applicants under old age and widow pension, and auctioning of the cooperative sugar mill to raise funds to pay farmers and workers were discussed, and the Lt Governor accorded her approval to these schemes," the chief minister said.

After the talks, the chief minister said he and his cabinet colleagues met and decided "unanimously" that "the agitations including jail bharo and a fast on Wednesday and Thursday are suspended".

The breakthrough came on a day Kiran Bedi's fellow anti-corruption campaigner-turned-critic Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, arrived to meet his Puducherry counterpart and express solidarity with him.

Thanking Mr Kejriwal, Mr Narayanasamy said: "He supported the cause of democracy and it's significant".

Mr Kejriwal had said: "Instead of fighting for petty things, we would fight together for statehood for Delhi and Puducherry."

While showing support for the Congress leader, Mr Kejriwal was non-committal on the question of a tie-up with the party for the national election. "I am here not as an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader but as the Delhi chief minister meeting the Puducherry chief minister," he said.

Kiran Bedi tweeted "The meet helped clarify and consolidate issues. I am happy Puducherry government will return to work."

The Congress government in Puducherry has been in almost constant conflict with Kiran Bedi, a former Indian Police Service officer who is known to give instructions to the police, review government projects and even cracked down on irregularities in private medical admission.

The latest flashpoint came when she implemented a mandatory helmet rule,  which Mr Narayanasamy wanted done in phases.

The tug-of-war has certainly affected governance in Puducherry.