In a remark signalling the widening rift between the Puducherry’s elected government and her office, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi today said that the Congress government in the state wants her to remain just a "figurehead" though the rules assign her responsibilities of an administrator.
The former firebrand IPS officer made it clear that she won't back down.
Sticking to her announcement about quitting the post on May 29 next year, Bedi said she took the decision as she is discharging her duties for a "cause and not a tenure" and will "set in motion the needed practices" so a "third year may not be needed at all".
"It (L-G's role) is of an administrator. And a functioning Lt Governor. Not a figurehead, as they (Congress government) want me to be. For they said so in their last meeting. I told them please read my responsibilities as specified as an administrator," she told PTI here in an interview.
Amid growing differences between her and the Congress government in Puducherry, Bedi had last week said she would quit the post on completion of two years in office.
Asked what prompted her to make the announcement well in advance, Bedi noted she took oath as L-G on May 29 (last year) as it is her mother's birthday, and said she decided to give this responsibility a similar departure date.
"I said two years because I wanted to let it be known that I am here (as L-G of Puducherry) for a cause and not a tenure, or waiting for extensions.
"I will set in motion the needed practices. Third year may not be needed at all. Such a decision gives a sense of urgency to my team and personal freedom to me," she said.
Referring to Puducherry being "in a debt trap", Bedi said she will take necessary steps for financial prudence. "Whatever is within my responsibility I shall exercise with maximum financial prudence. Precious resources must go where they are needed most.
"Puducherry is in a debt trap. We have to check its further decline," said Bedi, who was here to attend the valedictory ceremony of the 35th All India Police Equestrian Championship as chief guest.
Bedi's January 7 statement to quit post at the end of two-year tenure came a day after eight Congress MLAs shot off a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh complaining about her style of functioning, in the backdrop of her cancelling an order of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy banning officials from using social media for official communication.
In her order issued through the Lieutenant Governor’s secretariat last week, Bedi declared the circular dated Jan 2, 2017, of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (Personnel Wing) with the subject as null and void with immediate effect.
The government banned the use of social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter, after Bedi suspended a Pondicherry Civil Service cadre officer for posting a lewd video on a WhatsApp group initiated by her for passing on instructions to officials.
The former IPS officer had initiated several measures, including to check crime and corruption and for a garbage-free Puducherry. Differences between the Lt Governor and the government had occasionally come in the open, though Narayanasamy had maintained the ties were cordial.
In an apparent reference to Bedi's direct interactions with government officials, Narayanasamy had in the past said the elected ministry should not be overlooked.
In August last year, Bedi had reportedly threatened to quit her post and leave Puducherry over alleged lack of cooperation from officials for her Clean Puducherry Mission.
(With PTI inputs)