Kiran Bedi, Puducherry CM at Odds Over Struggle With Pvt Colleges

An explosive video shows Bedi lambasting officials during a surprise inspection for failing to fill vacant seats.

Published
India
3 min read
Kiran Bedi versus Narayanswamy: a silent tussle brewing in Puducherry? (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

A powerful clash has been unfolding between the Lt Governor of Puducherry, Kiran Bedi and the managements of self-financing medical colleges over the question of admission of students under government quota and the fee structure that they are to be charged.

In the most explosive episode in the clash, a video published by Dinamalar shows Bedi lambasting officials during a surprise inspection on 31 May for failing to fill seats under the government quota.

“The Lt Governor’s order here is that what belongs to the people must go back to the people. That’s it,” a fiery Bedi can be heard declaring in the video.

Pointing to a document regarding the sharing of seats between the government quota and the management quota, she insists that the “50-50” division of seats be implemented correctly.

She is also seen warning the officials that if the order is not implemented promptly, “You shall be placed under suspension. You go to the court and get yourself reinstated.”

Bedi’s intervention came in the context of the refusal of many college managements to follow the fee structure prescribed by a Fee Committee appointed by the Supreme Court, and its insistence that 71 government quota seats left unfilled at the end of two rounds of counselling by the Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC) be transferred over to the management quota.

However, Bedi insisted that all seats in the government quota allotted for local students be filled with students from within Puducherry, The Hindu reported. Where seats were still remaining, they should be transferred to the Government of India for reallocation to government quota and could not be transferred over to the management quota, she asserted.

We have on record from the students as to the kind of injustice or even exploitation which has happened or as to the irregularities which happened or the violations which have been committed by certain colleges in asking from the students certain conditions. I don’t want to tell you the details of which college decided to impose which condition, these are violative of laws, so now, once we compile all this, we will proceed further.
Kiran Bedi

The Clash Taking a Political Turn

However, the clash between Bedi and college managements also seems to be taking a political turn, with Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy giving the Legislative Assembly a different picture of the situation on 2 June. Refusing to count the 26 seats that had been allotted in the third round of counselling, Narayanaswamy told the Assembly that only 91 seats had been allotted (as against claims by Bedi that 117 seats had been allotted), reported The Times of India.

On 30 May, its governor rushed to the Centac office and ordered Centac convener to issue offer letters to some students by making an allegation that Puducherry government quota has been given away to private managements. This is totally incorrect and misleading. As per the Union government and MCI guidelines, the un-utilised quotas had to be offered to all India students. We have no choice in the matter. All over country the same practice is followed.
V Narayanaswamy

Third Round of Counselling Held, But to Little Avail

Following Bedi’s intervention, a third round of counselling was held, in which 26 more seats were allotted, with 45 seats being surrendered to the All India quota.

However, according to The Hindu, this did not resolve the chaos for students, as college managements stuck to their guns, refusing to admit students allotted seats in the third round of counselling. Some colleges also refused to admit students unless they paid the full fees demanded, which ran upwards of Rs 35 lakh.

Following this stand-off, showcause notices were issued on 1 June to the Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital and the Sri Venkateshwaraa Medical College and Hospital for failing to follow the prescribed fee structure and to admit students under CENTAC.

On Saturday, Bedi told media persons that she fully intends to follow through on her warnings of strict action against errant college managements.

Bedi also replied to journalists on a WhatsApp group and said the chief minister, “wants a Lieutenant Governor who is just an onlooker and passes time and enjoys benefits of expensive establishment called Raj Nivas without meeting people or questioning officers and would do what he tells even in writing”, reported NDTV.

The chief minister commented on the matter and said:

Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry is acting beyond the powers vested in her. Therefore, it is high time that I have to open my mouth because otherwise the state government is being affected. I will not tolerate this.

(With inputs from NDTV.)

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