On Tuesday, Puducherry Congress workers burst crackers and CM V Narayanasamy, whose government is on the verge of collapse, distributed sweets, claiming credit for the removal of Lt Governor Kiran Bedi. The President then announced Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan would hold additional charge in Bedi’s place.
Bedi, whose storied career as an IPS officer made her an inspiration to women across India, earned few fans during her tenure in Puducherry. From the get-go, the elected government headed by Narayanasamy clashed with the Lt Governor’s office over everything from a scheme to provide free rice (she favoured a direct benefit transfer) to the implementation of a helmet rule. The CM accused her of running a parallel government and instructing officials directly.
Based on this, the Congress has held multiple protests against her, and last week Narayansamy met the President demanding her removal. While her exit may appear a win for the Congress, her presence was also an issue around which the ruling party campaigned for five years. Narayanasamy has successfully blamed her interference for the stalling of every development scheme.
Even local BJP workers were unhappy with her performance, believing the party was adversely impacted by the perceived mood against her. In fact, the renewed demand of political parties for statehood was built off perceived discontent of the public at her style of functioning.
Interestingly, Bedi’s removal came just months before the Assembly polls even as the Congress has lost at least four key leaders to the BJP. The ruling alliance’s tally in the House is now equal to that of the Opposition and Soundararajan has asked the CM to prove his government’s majority on February 22. Having inducted the heavyweight erstwhile Congress leaders, the BJP sees itself having a fighting chance in the UT.
A cynic’s view may be that in the event of a close poll verdict, the BJP might prefer a L-G more in tune with local politics—Soundararajan is a former Tamil BJP chief—to be in a position to weigh in. Whatever the cause for Bedi’s removal, ironically it may only be Narayanasamy who misses her, especially during the upcoming campaign.