Puducherry: Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and an AIADMK MLA were locked in a war of words Tuesday after the legislator was asked to cut short his speech as he ‘exceeded’ the time allotted at a government function.
Bedi accused A Anbalagan of being rude and claimed she had witnessed similar ‘misbehaviour‘ by him in the past, while the MLA, who left the venue in a huff, met Assembly Speaker V Vaithilingam and drew his attention to the incident.
“He went on and on beyond reasonable time when there was long programme to follow… rejected the request to stop and continued to be rude,” Bedi charged in a WhatsApp message. Talking to reporters, the MLA claimed he had been insulted and slammed Bedi, asking “is the Lt Governor a Princess in Puducherry?”
The incident occurred in the presence of a couple of ministers during the government function to declare Puducherry open defecation free with Bedi as the chief guest. The Lt Governor later made the declaration and distributed certificates to the functionaries of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, scheduled to address the function, was conspicuous by his absence. Official sources said he was out of station. Trouble broke out when Anbalagan was addressing the function. Initially he spoke about the centre’s Swachch Bharat Abhiyan for maintaining cleanliness, but later highlighted “shortcomings” and suggested measures to improve it.
The Lt Governor, who was listening to the speech delivered in Tamil, appeared to indicate that the MLA was going beyond the time limit. He was then handed a slip by an officer asking him to stop. However, Anbalagan kept airing his views following which his mike was switched off.
He then picked up an argument with Bedi on the dias, questioning the sudden switching off of the mike and sought to know how he could be asked to stop his speech. As a people’s representative he should not be put to such “insult and disrespect,” he told Bedi.
Bedi, who has been repeatedly accused by both the ruling Congress and opposition parties of overstepping her powers in the past, appealed to Anbalagan to leave the venue. With folded hands, the Lt Governor said “Please go. Do not spoil the function.”
The MLA then left the venue. Anbalagan later flayed the ministers who were present for not coming out in his support. “Do the Ministers serve as dumb followers of the Lt Governor? Is the Lt Governor a Princess in Puducherry?” he asked.
Attacking the Lt Governor, Anbalagan wanted to know how Bedi defeated in an election in New Delhi and appointed to the gubernatorial post here can ask an elected member to leave the venue. He also claimed that there were 1,000 huts in his Uppalam constituency which lacked toilet facilities and people indulged in open defecation.
“In the circumstances how can government declare Puducherry an open defecation free union territory?” he asked. Bedi in her message said the legislator was not even scheduled to address the gathering and he compelled his way before the start of the function to be part of the speakers.
“Incidentally this is not the first time this MLA has done something like this. I have witnessed similar misbehaviour from him earlier too when he was asked to respect others’ time too,” she said.
The MLA also said he would consult AIADMK high command and act as per its suggestion to ensure that “respect and prestige of an elected member is protected.”