Majority of the ruling Congress party’s lawmakers in Puducherry openly criticised the Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi over the issue of use of social media for official communication. The friction cropped up after Bedi cancelled the Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s January 2 order banning use of WhatsApp for official communication.
Openly attacking the LG, eight out of 15 Congress MLAs have accused her of acting in a “dictatorial style” and sought the Centre’s intervention by writing to the Union Home minister Rajnath Singh.
“We have drawn the attention of the Union Home Minister to undemocratic and publicity mongering conduct of Kiran Bedi,” former minister K Lakshminarayanan said, urging the Centre to intervene and direct Bedi to “function in conformity with the decisions the elected government takes instead of acting arbitrarily and in a dictatorial style.”
The presser was addressed by only eight MLAs of the ruling party as remaining 7 are office bearers in the government and constitutional position.
Kiran Bedi, a retired IPS officer and BJP’s unsuccessful CM candidate for 2015 Delhi assembly polls, was appointed as the LG of the Union Territory of Puducherry last year in May.
According to reports, she has been pushing with her plan to promote WhatsApp communication by officials after she recently formed a WhatsApp group for exchange of information and details of implementation of various government schemes with an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) at Raj Nivas as the group administrator.
The government’s circular banning use of social media was seen as a counter to Bedi suspending a Puducherry Civil Service officer for posting an “obscene” video clip on the WhatsApp group.
Cancelling Chief Minister Narayanasamy’s order, Bedi had on Thursday tweeted, “If Puducherry has to be a progressive Union Territory it cannot be retrograde in communications. Hence @CM_Puducherry’s order stands cancelled: @PMOIndia (sic)”.
Addressing a joint press conference soon after the issue on Friday, the ruling party MLAs said Bedi was not acting in coordination with the elected ministry since assuming the office on May 29 last.
Asked if they wanted the Centre to recall the Lt Governor, Lakshminarayanan said “We do not make such demand. We only urge the Union Home Minister to intervene and prevent Kiran Bedi from acting arbitrarily and from contravening all the set rules and regulations and encroaching upon the powers of the elected ministry.”
In their memorandum, submitted to the Union Home ministry, they stated that ever since Kiran Bedi had assumed office “her conduct was in such a nature that it was reminiscent of what Administrator would be like if Puducherry was under President’s rule.”
They also stressed that the Chief Minister, with about 25 years of experience as a Parliamentarian and Union Minister, did not want any collision course with the LG and desired to have “cordial relations” for smooth functioning of the respective democratic institutions.
Besides Lakshminarayanan, the other MLAs who are signatories to the memorandum are Deputy Speaker VP Sivakolundhu, Government whip RKR Anandaraman, V Vijayaveny, E Theeppainthan, T Jayamoorthy, N Dhanavelu, and MNR Balan.
(With inputs from the PTI)