People are also against Bedi: V Narayanasamy

'Lt Guv must work within rules'

A Congress veteran who held various positions in the UPA I and II governments, V Narayanasamy took over as chief minister of Puducherry in June 2016. Ever since he took charge, Narayanasamy has been locked in a constant run-in with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, widely regarded as an upright IPS officer during her service. 

In an interview with E T B Sivapriyan of DH, the chief minister poured his heart out on the confrontations with the Lt governor and shared his plans to further boost the tourism sector in the Union territory (UT). Excerpts:
It is going to be two years since you assumed office. How do you rate your government’s performance so far?

Puducherry has bagged several awards in the small-states category instituted by many organisations. The UT stood number one in education and health, while maternal and infant mortality rates are the lowest in the country. Puducherry has also achieved 100% in the institutional delivery mechanism. Several welfare programmes have been implemented and tourism is still the major revenue generator. We continue to receive tourists from all southern states, including Karnataka.
What is the financial situation right now?

When we took over in 2016, the financial condition of Puducherry was quite bad. Due to some prudent measures, we increased our revenue by more than Rs 300 crore. We will continue to take steps to increase our revenue. Our revenue resources are limited to commercial and excise tax, registration, transport and electricity. We also mainly depend on industries and tourism for revenue.
Is there any plan for improving tourist infrastructure in Puducherry?

We are planning to upgrade facilities and offer a variety of entertainment options to tourists who come here from across the country. The government is planning to allow private companies to set up Disney World-like amusement parks, water sports, water theme parks, entertainment and even casinos. A casino will be our last priority since we don’t want local people to be allowed and it will be only for outsiders. By improving the infrastructure, we hope to attract a larger number of tourists, this would generate more money for the government as well.
Have any firms come forward to set up these amusement and theme parks?

Yes. A few companies from Singapore and Malaysia have offered to set up these parks, while shipping companies based in Dubai want to start a cruise from Chennai to Puducherry. After the safety and security situation is ensured, we would want to start the cruise from Chennai to provide another alternative route to reach Puducherry.

Confrontation between the government and the Lt governor’s office seem to be unending. Why do you think there is a problem almost all the time?

Problems occur due to non-adherence of rules by the administrator (Lt governor). It is not only the government functionaries, people are also against her (Bedi). Recently, we saw how she put spokes in the free rice scheme formulated by my government. She withdrew the order of linking cleanliness with free rice after an uproar across the country. She was forced to eat her own words. She was only for publicity and interested in only sending reports to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about her actions here. She has done nothing in the interest of Puducherry. She wants to run a government through Facebook and Twitter. How is it possible?
Are you against the use of Twitter and Facebook?

I am not against it. If everything can be shared on social media, why do we even have Official Secrets Act? There is a certain amount of classified information in the government and it cannot be released openly. Both the chief minister and L-G have taken the oath that they will not divulge any official information and why is she violating that by releasing all internal communication via Twitter. Why should she release the secrets? She is behaving as if she is the only champion of social media.
The L-G says she linked cleanliness with free rice only because the villages which she inspected was filthy?

What filthy? Let her go and see how streets are maintained in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. There may be some garbage here and there but it is the job of the local bodies to clear them and they will do it.
You said Bedi is unnecessarily interfering in the functioning of the government. Why do you think so?

It is the agenda of the BJP government at the Centre. They want to create problems for our government and that is the reason why she is being kept here. They are continuing with a woman who does not know what is administration.
Are you saying that the BJP is behind her?

Yes. I don’t know whether it is the prime minister or others who are behind her. Whenever I complain against Bedi to the Union government functionaries, they don’t take any action against her, which means there is a hidden agenda.
What is the controversy about nominated MLAs? What is the real position?

In the past, only the chief minister has sent recommendations for nomination of MLAs to the Centre and they were accepted. But this time, the Union home ministry directly made these nominations and we objected to that. The issue went to court and the Madras High Court upheld their nominations. Our people went to Supreme Court and it is pending before the court. Let the courts decide.
Is there a way to resolve this crisis?

There will absolutely be no problem if she works within her parameters, everything will be alright. She has no power or authority to keep returning files all the time. If she works according to the rules, there will be no issues at all.

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