Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has accused Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi of “continuous acts of high-handed dictatorship” as he continued a sit-in protest with his ministers outside the Raj Nivas on Thursday, PTI reported on Thursday. In a letter to Bedi the day before, Narayanasamy had asked the lieutenant governor to change her “style of undemocratic day-to-day governance”.

Narayanasamy started the demonstration outside Bedi’s official residence on Wednesday afternoon in protest against her directive to enforce a helmet rule in the Union territory immediately. He also claimed that she had yet to approve 39 pending government proposals.

Narayanasamy, his ministers and party legislators slept on a pavement close to the Raj Nivas on Wednesday night. Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam workers joined the protest on Thursday, according to PTI.

Bedi tweeted a letter she wrote to the chief minister on Wednesday evening, calling the protest unlawful. She said Narayanasamy had written to her on February 7 and instead of waiting for a response he had come to Raj Nivas for a dharna. “The letter didn’t say that ‘if you don’t reply by 13th February, I’ll sit on a dharna’” she said.

She said his concerns needed “examination for a considered response”. Bedi told ANI that she was on tour till February 20 starting Thursday and that she wrote to Narayanasamy suggesting that a meeting be held on February 21.

However, the chief minister wrote back, saying the concerns he had raised in his February 7 letter were not new, and he had also raised them in the past. “We will not relent until a lasting solution is found to all the issues I raised in my letter,” Narayanasamy wrote. “We will not get cowed down by any kind of autocratic threats.”

Narayanasamy told reporters that Bedi has no right to interfere in Cabinet decisions, and alleged that she was being encouraged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create problems for his government, ANI reported. “Why should we [go to her to discuss]?” PTI quoted him as saying. “Let her come here and hold talks with us.”

Narayanasamy said the protest would continue till the 39 government proposals were cleared. “Even if it is not possible to immediately concede to all the 39 pleas, the Lieutenant Governor can give her nod to some of the important schemes including the free rice scheme and grants.”

Public Works Department Minister A Namassivayam told PTI that it was surprising that Bedi had left for Delhi when the chief minister and ministers were holding an agitation. “This shows that she does not respect the popular government,” Namassivayam said. “This is the height of her vanity.”

On Wednesday evening, the police barricaded the Raj Nivas and the surrounding streets to prevent unauthorised persons from entering the area.

Helmet rule

On February 10, Bedi herself took to the streets and instructed people to wear helmets. Around 30,000 people have been booked since February 11 for riding motorcycles without helmets, PTI reported.

Narayanasamy, however, wants the rule to be implemented in a phased manner. “The governor is meddling in the day-to-day administrative affairs of the government,” he alleged. “We are now protesting against the forceful implementation of the helmet rule. She took a unilateral decision on implementing the compulsory helmet rule. She has gone to the extent of threatening officials with dire consequences if they do not implement the helmet rule.”

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has extended its support to Narayanasamy’s protest.