Puducherry, Apr 22: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has accused Lt Governor Kiran Bedi of posing hurdles to the implementation of welfare schemes, an accusation she rejected, saying as the territorial administrator she works for the "people and not for vested interests".
Hours after Narayanasamy charged her of delaying implementation of schemes, including the free rice supply to ration card holders, Bedi in a message sought to know whether it was not the duty of the administrator to ensure that money meant for the poor actually goes to them. "If this irks some vested interests, the administrator is not responsible," she said.
Talking to reporters yesterday, the chief minister said the Lt Governor wanted the government to go for the direct benefit transfer scheme instead of supplying rice to card-holders and deposit the cash equivalent in bank accounts of beneficiaries. "When people themselves told the Lt Governor during her visit to a neighbouring village (Krimambakkam), recently, that the government should supply rice only and made it clear they were not prepared to accept cash payment through banks, how can she take a different stand," the Narayanasamy said. He alleged that Bedi was only "bringing a bad name to the elected government by delaying implementation of the scheme and posing obstacles to implementation of the rice scheme".
There was sufficient availability of funds for the scheme, the chief minister, who has been at loggerheads with the Lt Governor on various issues, said. Bedi should extend cooperation to the government in implementing the free rice scheme in letter and spirit, he said. He also said that "all the present difficulties the government is facing would come to an end in the next six months and till then we have to remain calm", but declined to elaborate.
Bedi, who assumed office in May 2016, has been asserting that being the administrator of the UT, she had the powers over administrative matters. On the Cauvery issue, Narayanasamy accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "deliberately delaying" the setting up of the management board. He announced that the ruling Congress, its alliance partner DMK and other parties would form a human chain and stage an agitation here on April 23 to condemn the Centre for "failing to form the CMB (Cauvery Management Board)."
In the message titled 'Rejoinder,' Bedi said, "It is the duty of the Lt Governor to do due assessment of a proposed expenditure. When did proper and careful examination of a proposal by an administrator, which involves crores of rupees, become an obstacle." It was public money "which is held in trust and there is also a stiff accountability for it", she said.
The former IPS officer said it should also be ensured that there were no losses in transit and if "the close scrutiny disturbs anyone, then the problem is elsewhere for reasons not known". Bedi clarified that at no stage, the office of the administrator had declined to ensure benefits to the poor. "Instead what it is trying to ensure by careful analysis is how to ensure that the benefits do not get leaked in the process," she said asserting that it was "a sacred duty" to be done.