Kiran Bedi Removed as Puducherry Lt Governor after Months of Tussle with CM Narayanasamy

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Kiran Bedi was removed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry on Tuesday night amid a political turmoil in the Union territory following the resignation of Congress MLAs from the V Narayanasamy government.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan was given additional charge as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. The announcement was made by the Rashtrapati Bhavan in a press communique.

“The President has directed that Dr Kiran Bedi shall cease to hold the office of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry and has appointed Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, Governor of Telangana, to discharge the functions of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, in addition to her own duties, with effect from the date she assumes charge of her office, until regular arrangements for the office of Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry are made,” Ajay Kumar Singh, Press Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind, said in a statement.

On Monday, a bandh on February 16 by the ruling Congress-led Secular Democratic Alliance to urge the Centre to recall Bedi was called off on the request of various traders and merchants associations, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said. He told reporters that the decision was taken after they said it would inconvenience the public. “The demand has been conceded and the proposed bandh has been called off,” he said.

The CM had submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind on February 10, urging him to recall the former IPS officer, saying she was running a ‘tughlaq durbar’. He complained that Bedi was ‘autocratic’ and was interfering in the administration, besides ‘impeding’ the implementation of various proposals of the elected government. The SDA had staged a four day agitation in the Union Territory from January 8, demanding recall of Bedi, besides going on a day-long hunger strike on February 5 on the issue.

Bedi, a former IPS officer, and Narayanasamy had been at loggerheads over various issues ever since she was appointed Lt Governor in May 2016, with the ruling Congress accusing her of going against the decisions of the government. The Congress had in December, 2019 written to the President, seeking the recall of Bedi, who has maintained that being the Administrator of the Union Territory she was only discharging her duties as per law.

Earlier in the day, the Congress government in the union territory lost its majority with another legislator resigning, reducing the numbers of the party-led alliance to 14 in the Assembly with an effective strength of 28. Seizing on the opportunity, the opposition which also has 14 MLAs in the 33-member house, demanded the resignation of Narayanasamy, saying his government was in minority.

However, Narayanasamy rejected the demand, claiming that his government continued to enjoy ‘majority’ in the Assembly, which is set to go for polls in the next few months. Congress MLA A John Kumar resigned from his MLA post and the party on Tuesday, becoming the fourth legislator to quit the Assembly since last month, dealing a blow ahead of the elections.

(With inputs from PTI)

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