Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy and his ministerial colleagues continued their dharna outside the Raj Nivas for the second day on Thursday protesting Lt Governor Kiran Bedi's "negative stand" towards his government' proposals awaiting her approval.
Narayanasamy, his ministers and party MLAs had on Wednesday night slept on a pavement close to the Raj Nivas wearing black shirts. They have been demanding that that the Lt Governor accord sanction to 39 government proposals, including a free rice scheme.
Functionaries of different wings of the ruling Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have also joined the protest.
Bedi left for New Delhi early on Thursday morning under tight security of the Rapid Action Force.
A source in the Raj Nivas said that she would return on February 20 and has invited the chief minister for discussion over the issues raised by him on February 21.
Asserting that their protest would continue till the government proposals were cleared, the chief minister said, "Even if it is not possible to immediately concede all the 39 pleas, the Lt Governor can give her nod to some of the important schemes including the free rice scheme and grants."
"When people's representatives are holding agitation in support of their charter of 39 demands since Wednesday seeking approval of Lt Governor, it is amusing indeed that Bedi had left for Chennai enroute Delhi," PWD minister A Namassivayam said.
"This shows that she does not respect the popular government. This is the height of her vanity."
On the helmet rule, Namassivayam said the government had asked the police not to be very stern against those not using helmets while driving two wheelers as awareness needs to be raised at least for a month before making the wearing of helmets compulsory.
He, however, clarified that they were not against the helmet rule as the Supreme court's directive to implement the rule should be complied with by all.
Meanwhile, barricades were erected around the Lt Governor's office to keep agitators at bay as a section of volunteers of different political parties raised slogans against the deployment of the RAF around Raj Nivas and at various vantage points.
Chief Minister Narayanasamy had led an agitation in front of the Parliament on January 4, demanding that the Centre sanction statehood for Puducherry and replace Kiran Bedi as the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor and the government headed by Narayanasamy had been at loggerheads over various issues ever since Bedi assumed office in May 2016.