PUDUCHERRY: The political temperature here shot up many notches on Sunday after Chief Minister V Narayanasamy threw his weight behind Speaker V Vaithilingam, who is locked in a turf war with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.
Two officers are caught in the crossfire. While Bedi is backing municipal commissioner R Chandrasekaran, Chief Secretary Manoj Parida is on the other side of the spectrum, facing her wrath for executing Vaithilingam’s directive without her clearance.
Parida put Chandrasekaran on ‘compulsory wait’ following the Speaker’s ruling on a privilege motion moved by AIADMK lawmaker A Bhaskar, who charged that the officer had convened a meeting in his constituency on Bedi’s orders without inviting him.
Narayanasamy told the media that the “ruling of the Speaker is final and none has the authority to change it”. While he stoutly defended Parida’s action, Bedi said she alone was ‘the competent authority’ regarding officials on service matters and had the final say, adding she would take action against the Chief Secretary.
Bedi argued that the Speaker’s order violated Rule 47 of Business Rules. She struck it down after due legal process and discussions with the Union Home Secretary and the Union Home Minister. “As far as the office of Lt Governor is concerned, Chandrasekaran is the municipal commissioner. If the government has anything more to say, they can take up the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs,” she asserted. But Narayanasamy stood his ground, cited a different rule and said ignoring the Speaker’s ruling would have amounted to breach of privilege. He said as per Rule 47(2), the L-G had to consult him before taking a decision.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Sunday stood his ground in the ongoing face-off between Speaker V Vaithilingam and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi. And the Speaker indirectly warned the Lt Governor, saying action will be taken against whoever tries to disobey his ruling on transfer.
“I got the Speaker’s orders on putting municipal commissioner R Chandrasekaran on ‘compulsory wait’ implemented. The ruling of the Speaker is final and is in total agreement with the provisions of the Rule 312 of the Business Rules of the Assembly,” Narayanasamy asserted.
“Had I not enforced it, myself and my team of ministers would have been accused of dishonouring the Chair. We would have held liable for breach of privilege and suffered imprisonment…. I accept full responsibility for the decision. It is not the responsibility of Chief Secretary Manoj Parida,” he said defending Parida who is in Bedi’s line of fire.
Joining issue with Bedi, he said the rules relating to administration clearly state that the chief minister had “full statutory powers to issue orders to keep an officer under compulsory wait or to assign additional charge of a post to another officer”. There were also statutory provisions stating that the Lt Governor should consult the chief minister before issuing administrative orders or taking any decision under Rule 47(2) of Business Rules, he pointed out. Narayanasamy added that he had apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the issue.
Bedi, however, stuck to her position, arguing that under the business rules the legislature is not empowered to make appointments.
For his part, Vaithilingam said, “There was nothing personal about it. It was an order issued by the Assembly Speaker. Everyone should respect it and enforce the order. The municipal commissioner was transferred based on the Speaker’s order. Action will be taken against whoever tries to overturn it.” With both sides hardening their positions, Kiran Bedi appears to be increasingly isolated.