Puducherry Social Welfare Minister continues sit-in inside Assembly against Lt Governor Kiran Bedi

Published : January 11, 2021 20:07 IST

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy (left) and a few other colleagues with Social Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy (second from left) at the protest site in the Puducherry Legislative Assembly on January 11. Photo: T. Singaravelou

Puducherry Social Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy, who is on an indefinite sit-in in the Legislative Assembly, asserted that he would go ahead with his protest, because the Lt Governor, Kiran Bedi, was “blocking the schemes of the ejected government” repeatedly.

Talking to Frontline, he alleged that Kiran Bedi was using officials to sabotage all the welfare schemes. “One nation, one ration is an all India scheme of the Prime Minister. We are unable to implement it here because there are no ration shops,” he said. He has drawn up a list of 15 demands relating to his Ministry and wants the Lt Governor to give her consent for them.

“She has refused to even fill up government employee vacancies. This is another reason why schemes are not being implemented,” he said. Asked if he would continue to protest during the Pongal week too, he said, “I will sit here for as long as it takes to press for the demands.” Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, who visited Kandasamy in the Assembly, said that his Cabinet colleagues and MLAs, would intensify their agitation to press the Centre to recall Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.

The Congress party had launched, on January 8, a “Recall Kiran Bedi” campaign. Narayanasamy spent two nights under a makeshift pandal near Anna Statue, but decided to suspend his protest because people were being inconvenienced ahead of Pongal celebrations.

Puducherry also goes to polls along with Tamil Nadu in 2021. Congress leaders believe that they need to build momentum on a range of issues ahead of the election. One leader claimed that the Congress was a divided house in Puducherry and that the agitation was being carried out with the aim of uniting all factions. “Of course, everything they [the Congress leaders] have pointed out are issues that need to be sorted out. But there are some within the Congress who want to switch over. I know of at least two such persons,” the leader added.

The Congress has 14 seats in the 30-member Assembly, and its ally, the DMK, has three. But DMK has not been supportive of many actions of the ruling Congress government. A three-way contest in the State (with the DMK contesting on its own) would help the Congress, one local leader felt.

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