Kiran Bedi’s removal comes with just weeks to go for Assembly polls in Puducherry (File)New Delhi:
Kiran Bedi was removed as Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry late Tuesday night, in what sources said was a political move denews24nationed to negate opposition parties’ primary campaign platform for Assembly elections due in May. Rashtrapati Bhavan said President Ram Nath Kovind had directed Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to take over till a replacement is announced. Ms Bedi’s removal also came hours after a fourth member of the ruling Congress renews24nationed from the Assembly, leaving Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s government in the minority. Shortly before she was removed Mr Narayanasamy, who has had a long-running and public feud with Ms Bedi, told NDTV that one of the MLAs who had renews24nationed had been “harassed… several times” by her. Here are the top 10 points in this big story:Ms Bedi’s removal is being widely seen as a political move by the BJP to negate the Congress’ election campaign, which focuses on allegations that Ms Bedi was scuttling Puducherry’s development at the behest of the centre. The allegations are at the heart of a long-running feud between Ms Bedi and Mr Narayanasamy.Ms Bedi, who was appointed in May 2016, has long been involved in a feud with Mr Narayanasamy, who has complained of her “undemocratic style of functioning”. Last month he sat on dharna outside her official residence. “This is a not a new demand. Even in 2019 December, we sat in dharna in front of the Raj Bhavan,” he told NDTV then.Sources also said Ms Bedi’s removal was also one of the conditions placed by A Namassivayam – one of the two ex-Congress leaders who last month renews24nationed as MLAs and from the party to join the BJP.Tuesday night the Chief Minister told NDTV: “We met the President because Malladi Krishna Rao (one of the Congress MLAs who quit to join the BJP) had been harassed by Kiran Bedi several times… Kiran Bedi has been interfering in the day-to-day administration of our government and she has been trying to create problems,” he said.Four Congress leaders have renews24nationed so far; a fifth, N Dhanavelou, was disqualified for alleged anti-party activities last year. Two MLAs – A Namassivayam and E Theeppainjan – renews24nationed last month. Both have joined the BJP. On Monday Malladi Krishna Rao quit, and today John Kumar renews24nationed. With these renews24nationations the Congress has lost its thin majority in the Puducherry Assembly.Mr Namassivayam’s switch was a big blow; the former state Congress chief played a big role in consolidating the party’s base in Puducherry. With him, several other leaders and functionaries walked out and crossed over to the BJP, a well-worn script that has played out in several states where defections have brought down governments.Mr Narayanasamy has remained defiant in the face of these renews24nationations, telling NDTV: Our government is not in a minority.” He said the renews24nationations of Mr Rao and Mr Kumar had not yet been accepted and were still being considered by the Speaker.The Chief Minister also accused the BJP of planning another “Operation Kamal (lotus)” – the opposition’s name for what they say is the BJP’s strategy of engineering defections and toppling governments – in Puducherry.Elections are due by May in Puducherry and neighbouring Tamil Nadu, besides Kerala, West Bengal and Assam. The BJP does not expect much from Tamil Nadu and Kerala at this point, but feels it has a better chance in Puducherry, with the Congress weakened.The Congress won 15 assembly seats in 2016, including that of the Speaker. It took power with support of the DMK and an independent candidate. The opposition AINRC has seven, the AIADMK has four and there are three nominated members of the BJP.