As protests outside Puducherry Raj Nivas escalated into a ruckus on Thursday, the Union Territory's Lt Governor Kiran Bedi slammed Chief Minister V Narayanasamy asserting that she had written to him stating that she would meet him on February 21 as she is currently on tour. Bedi also accused Narayanasamy of stalling the steps to ensure the implementation of wearing the helmet rule for two-wheeler drivers.
"I wrote to him (Puducherry CM) a letter that 'you are welcome to come and see me on February 21 at 10 am, as I'm on a tour till February 20 starting today. I'll return on February 20 midnight and tell me what could be more right. He is still sitting there. He isn't allowing people to wear helmet," said Bedi.
"He (CM) wrote me a letter on February 7 on 36 issues some of which don't exist or have been settled. I received it on February 8. Yesterday he sits on a dharna saying he demands a reply. The letter didn't say that 'if you don't reply by February 13, I'll sit on a dharna," she added.
Narayanasamy's protest came after Bedi hit the road several days ago and advised two-wheeler owners to wear helmets. While Bedi wanted the helmet rule for two-wheeler riders to be implemented at one go, Narayanasamy wanted the implementation in phases.
Narayanasamy and his ministerial colleagues continued their dharna outside the Raj Nivas for the second day on Thursday protesting against Bedi's "negative stand" towards his government' proposals awaiting her approval.
Narayanasamy, his ministers and party MLAs had on Wednesday night slept on a pavement close to the Raj Nivas wearing black shirts. They have been demanding that the Lt Governor accord sanction to 39 government proposals, including a free rice scheme.
Functionaries of different wings of the ruling Congress and the DMK have also joined the protest. Bedi left for New Delhi early on Thursday morning under tight security of the Rapid Action Force (RAF).
A source in the Raj Nivas told PTI that she would return on February 20 and has invited the chief minister for discussion over the issues raised by him on February 21.
Asserting that their protest would continue till the government proposals were cleared, the chief minister said, "Even if it is not possible to immediately concede all the 39 pleas, the Lt Governor can give her nod to some of the important schemes including the free rice scheme and grants."
"When people's representatives are holding an agitation in support of their charter of 39 demands since Wednesday seeking approval of Lt Governor, it is amusing indeed that Bedi had left for Chennai en route Delhi," PWD Minister A Namassivayam told PTI. "This shows that she does not respect the popular government. This is the height of her vanity."
On the helmet rule, Namassivayam said the government had asked the police not to be very stern against those not using helmets while driving two-wheelers as awareness needs to be raised at least for a month before making the wearing of helmets compulsory. He, however, clarified that they were not against the helmet rule as the Supreme Court's directive to implement the rule should be complied with by all.
Meanwhile, barricades were erected around the Lt Governor's office to keep agitators at bay as a section of volunteers of different political parties raised slogans against the deployment of the RAF around Raj Nivas and at various vantage points.
The Lt Governor and the government headed by Narayanasamy had been at loggerheads over various issues ever since Bedi assumed office in May 2016.