PUDUCHERRY: The simmering tension between the activist Lieutenant Governor, Kiran Bedi, and the territorial government of Puducherry flared on Sunday after she openly accused the ministers and officials of not cooperating with her cleanliness initiatives. The former police officer said she would pack her bags and leave the people to fend for themselves if the stalemate continued.
“Unless the ministers and secretaries are present during the weekend inspection tours, I will not go, and the work will come to a standstill,” Bedi said at a road safety event on Sunday morning. “It is the job of the senior officers, and ministers who have been elected. I have been appointed.” The people should, she added, demand that the ministers do their job.
Bedi alleged that except for a few officials, the seniors refused to accompany her this weekend - the 20th inspection since she took charge. “Cleaning the street is not the job of the L-G,” she said. Not hiding her annoyance, Bedi said she would wait till October to see if the administration and the people joined her. If not, she would quit.
These open comments have annoyed the local leaders who have been suspicious but cautious of the Lieutenant Governor, who has been holding darbars for both the public and the officials.
“She cannot ask ministers to accompany her at the time of her convenience [usually 6 am]. Why should the ministers go along with her? We have our own responsibilities to handle and issues to address, like welfare schemes, civic issues, power issues and other developmental work. She is focusing only on one aspect - cleanliness,” said a minister on condition of anonymity. “The ministers do not have any magic wand to address the issues of cleanliness overnight. If she wants to quit, it is her decision,” he added. Bedi also criticised the people of Puducherry for the current situation and lack of cleanliness.
IT was not just the administration that was at the receiving end of Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s cane. Criticising the residents of the Union Territory of being equally responsible for the present situation — and hence improvement — Bedi said they have to take up the responsibility of maintaining their neighbourhood, schools and colleges if they want a better, healthier and cleaner Puducherry.
“It was the people who were not segregating the waste at source, and throwing all sorts of waste, including even carcasses of animals into canals and lakes. When monsoon comes, there will be flooding that would affect a lot of people, and Puducherry will seek funds from the Centre — the same entity that has rolled out the Swachh Bharat campaign,” said Bedi, at a marathon on road safety organised by the Students’ Council of JIPMER on Sunday morning.
Instead of dirtying the surroundings and expecting the sanitary workers and even the LG to clean them, the citizens should collectively undertake the cleaning campaign, she said.
This was now or never, she added, giving the people time till September. After this she would review the situation and take a decision on whether to stay or go back.
Bedi claimed she was the first LG who was in the UT not for a job but on mission mode.
“If the mission is not completed, I will go back. If I go away, there will be no one coming to pull you out [of the trouble],” she said.
“Either I succeed or go back; I will pack my bags and leave. You will not see me again,” Bedi said, and added: “Raj Nivas (the LG’s official residence) is my office, not home. It is work and ‘seva’.”
“I have two foundations where thousands of students are waiting for me. I left my home to serve Puducherry. But if you consider the LG will clean the streets, then I will let you be punished. Puducherry needs to be punished for that,” she added.