Puducherry CM blames Lt Guv for not holding civic polls

Puducherry CM pins blame on Lt Guv for not holding civic polls

The rights and privileges of the elected government to revive democracy at the grassroots level have been grabbed by Bedi, he alleged

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi. Credit: DH File Photo

Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's barb that without holding civic polls in Puducherry, the Congress was preaching him democracy, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Saturday alleged Lt Governor Kiran Bedi was blocking initiatives aimed at elections.

"The Prime Minister cannot make such comments as all democratic rights of elected government in Puducherry were blocked by Lt Governor Kiran Bedi," he told reporters here. The rights and privileges of the elected government to revive democracy at the grassroots level have been grabbed by Bedi, he alleged.

The matter relating to the holding of civic polls, particularly the appointment of State Election Commissioner for Puducherry, was now pending disposal before the court, he said.

When the government appointed retired IAS officer, T M Balakrishnan as SEC, the Lt Governor rejected it and appointed Roy P Thomas, a retired IFS officer, as SEC following Centre's clearance, he said. The government challenged the Lt Governor's powers to appoint the SEC and the matter was now pending disposal in the Supreme Court, Narayanasamy told PTI.

The Chief Minister alleged "the powers and authority of the elected government are blocked and grabbed by Lt Governor". He said under the circumstances, the Prime Minister could not accuse the territorial Congress government of not holding the polls.

Bedi, on her twitter handle, said "it is a fact that denial of local body elections in Union Territory of Puducherry for a decade has deprived rural areas (here) of development funds besides suffering inadequate sanitation, poor water table management, desilting, school education and more".

The last civic polls were held in Puducherry in 2006 and the five year term of the elected bodies ended in 2011. According to the government, attempts in the past several years to hold local body polls did not fructify.

In the Union Territory, there are five municipalities, two in Puducherry and one each in Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam, and 10 commune panchayats (five each in Puducherry and Karaikal) and 98 village panchayats in total and together there are more than 800 wards.

PM Modi, launching the Ayushman Bharat scheme earlier in the day to extend health insurance benefits to Jammu and Kashmir residents, said the three-tier panchayat system has fully taken shape there. He launched the scheme via a video link.

"Some people in Delhi curse Modi day in and day out and hurl abuses. They regularly offer me lessons in democracy. I want to show them the mirror today," he said, blasting the Congress for not conducting local body polls in Puducherry. "The party of those teaching me democracy is in power in Puducherry," the prime minister said, without naming the Congress, which has been ruling the UT since 2016.

Noting that local body polls were last held in 2006 in Puducherry, he said its term ended in 2011 but new elections were not held. "You will be surprised to know that the Supreme Court had given an order in this regard in 2018, but the government there has been delaying it," the prime minister said.

The district development council polls in Jammu and Kashmir have written a new chapter in the troubled region and have strengthened democracy, he said.