Everyone knows that wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler could potentially save a life in case of an accident. But evident, could safety headgear also instigate a high-level political standoff?
That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday afternoon, when Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy began a dharna outside Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s home. The reason: Bedi wants to immediately implement a rule making it compulsory for two-wheeler users in the Union Territory to wear helmets.
Narayanasamy is unhappy with this development because according to him, he wasn’t consulted on the matter. He said that he wants the law to be enforced, but in phases.
Kiran Bedi, who had a long career with the the Indian Police Service, set the ball rolling on February 10. She tweeted an article to say that the law secretary of Puducherry had asked the Madras High Court to deploy a mobile magistrate traffic court in the Union Territory to that ensure motorcyclists wear helmets. She added that the police department had decided to make wearing of helmet compulsory from Monday.
She then stepped into the streets to urge two-wheeler riders to follow the rule.
Even legislators of the opposition AIADMK were annoyed. On Tuesday, they broke a few helmets on the grouds of the Puducherry assembly to protest the rule.
Chief Minister Narayanasamy of the Congress, meanwhile, said that the incident reflected Kiran Bedi’s “high-handed dictatorship” and “undemocratic governance”. He added that Bedi is yet to approve 39 pending government proposals that were sent to her.
On Wednesday, he and other cabinet members began a a sit-in at both entrances of the Lieutenant Governor’s residence.
The dharna continued late into the night, with blankets being brought in for the chief minister and the MLAs to sleep outside Bedi’s residence.
Ironically, Narayanasamy said that the helmet proposal is among the 39 pending items that have been sent to Bedi for approval.
Meanwhile, journalists on the beat grinned through the situation.
This is not the first altercation between Puducherry Chief Minister Narayanasamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. The chief minister has, on many occasions, alleged that Bedi hampers routine administration work of the government and oversteps her constitutional role.
The stand-off was still continuing on Thursday afternoon.