Voicing the demand for statehood for the national capital and Puducherry, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday alleged that the BJP-led NDA government was trying to suppress democracy and claimed the situation in the two union territories was the same. "The kind of ruthlessness with which the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is trying to suppress democracy all over the country is unprecedented," Kejriwal said.
Expressing solidarity with his Puducherry counterpart V Narayanasamy, who is locked in a turf war with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal alleged that the Lt Governors of New Delhi and Puducherry have been interfering in routine administration of the elected governments. Demanding statehood for both the national capital and Puducherry, the Aam Aadmi chief said people in these two union territories should not be discriminated against.
Narayanasamy, his cabinet colleagues and MLAs from both the Congress and the DMK have been staging a dharna against Bedi in front of the Raj Nivas in Puducherry since February 13 in protest against her "negative stand" towards various proposals of the territorial government. Speaking to reporters after meeting Narayanasamy, whose protest entered its sixth day Monday, Kejriwal expressed concern that under the BJP-led dispensation "chief ministers of West Bengal and Puducherry are sitting in dharnas and this is an absolutely shocking scenario."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently sat on a dharna to protest CBI's action against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund probe. Kejriwal alleged that both the Puducherry and Delhi governments were in the "same predicament of interference" by Lt Governors in the day-to-day administration and remaining handicapped for want of powers.
Getting statehood is the only solution to tackle this situation, Kejriwal said. He also alleged that Bedi and the Lt Governor in Delhi have been appointed with specific mandate by the NDA government "to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the union territories and also not to permit them to function."
"It is time that we (chief ministers) of the two Union Territories joined hands together to fight for statehood both politically and also through courts. "We are accountable to the people as we were elected on the basis of promises we made at the elections to the people. But Kiran Bedi is not accountable to the people. She is informally accountable to the prime minister," Kejriwal said.
Welcoming Kejriwal, Narayanasamy said statehood was the only solution to help Puducherry overcome the current difficulties in running the government "because of the Lt Governor's interference." "Puducherry has seen several Lt Governors in the past and they were all perfectly discharging their duties. The present incumbent is acting in an utterly undemocratic manner coupled with the highhanded approach of the central government.
"We seek your support and statehood is the only way out to wriggle out of the present predicament," he said, thanking Kejriwal for extending support to the dharna. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP MLA Somnath Bharti accompanied Kejriwal at the meeting.
Kejriwal also addressed a demonstration by workers of the Congress and its alliance partners at the Head Post office, held as part of the protest against Bedi. Earlier on arrival at Chennai airport en route to Puducherry, Kejriwal said, "The LG of Puducherry is creating a lot of obstacles in the development work and creating problems for the elected government. We are facing exactly similar problems in Delhi."
The lieutenant governors in both Delhi and Puducherry were appointees of the BJP-led government at the Centre, he said. "We will demand that both Delhi and Puducherry be made full states. There is no reason why people of these states should be discriminated against," he said.