After several party MLAs resigned, the Puducherry political crisis ensued when V. Narayanaswamy, the Chief Minister of the union territory failed to prove his government’s majority in the assembly. Ahead of the trust vote on Monday, the Congress MLAs staged a walk- out when the union territory is just months away from its scheduled elections.
This political upheaval can be seen as a result of mass resignations filed by the Congress MLAs during the last month. Earlier on Sunday, Congress MLA K Lakshminarayan and DMK MLA K Venkatesan quit the alliance and handed over their resignation letters to Puducherry assembly speaker VP Sivakozhundu.
In the last week of January, PWD minister A Namassivayam resigned from his post as well as a member of the assembly after Congress suspended him from primary membership accusing him of indulging in anti- party activities. Following this, another Congress legislator E Theeppainthan resigned from the assembly too and as a result, the strength of the ruling party dwindled to just 12.
On February 16th, the party fell further into doldrums when four sitting MLAs decided to quit and the government started feeling the heat. Just a day earlier to this, MLA Malladi Krishna Rao had also submitted his resignation.
Earlier on the day of the floor test, CM Narayanaswamy had emphasized that his government had the majority to continue ruling the Union Territory. The CM was addressing the assembly during a special session ahead of the floor test ordered by Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan when he claimed that he had the required numbers to keep the government from falling.
The CM also accused the former Lieutenant Governor, Kiran Bedi of being hand in glove with the opposition to usurp his government. Acknowledging the MLAs and the alliance partners, the CM expressed his gratitude and said, “Because of the support of my MLAs, we were able to complete almost five years of our government.”
While speaking at the same session he also asked for full statehood to the Union Territory to stop the Lieutenant Governor from meddling into the affairs.
This political turmoil has proved to be a huge blow on the grand old party. With the Congress government falling in Puducherry, only three Indian states have a CM hailing from the political party: Punjab, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
Congress also has alliance governments in the states of Jharkhand and Maharashtra; unfortunately, it is a bitter fact that things are not going a smooth way in the latter and anarchy seems to be rampant in the state.
Currently, it is conspicuously visible that the grand old party is struggling to gain some relevance in the political scenario of the country. After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the BJP formed the full majority government at the Centre, the Congress had majority government in 9 states and was part of alliances in four states. And as of now, the numbers have drastically gone down.
While the Congress had managed to form an alliance government in Karnataka in the 2018 assembly elections, the government which was led by JDS’ HD Kumaraswamy collapsed in July 2019. Similar was the scenario in Madhya Pradesh where too, the party had formed an alliance government in 2018 under the leadership of Kamal Nath but it fell down in March 2020.
Meanwhile, Punjab, which is one out of the only two states Congress enjoys a full majority government in, will hold elections in 2022.
While the political crisis was going on just months ahead of the election polls in Puducherry, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited the Union Territory on the 17th of February to begin with the party’s election campaign for the upcoming polls.
Post the party losing power in Puducherry, senior leader from Karnataka, B.K. Hariprasad on Tuesday suggested saying that party cadres at the block and district levels should be groomed to contest elections.
Hariprasad, who is now a member of the Legislative Council in Karnataka said, “Yes, certainly there should be a rethink on whom we give the party’s tickets to. The criteria of money power needs to be done away with and the party cadre should be identified at the block level and district level.”
Kishor Jha, AICC member from Bihar said, “One reason why Congress sees desertion is because of party’s preference for opportunists over loyalists. It is also true that when we form governments in states, our leaders are cut off from workers and MLAs alike.”
On the other hand, while all eyes are on the biggest opposition party, NR Congress, in Puducherry, the party chief N Rangaswamy said, “I have not staked claim to form the government, I had only sought a trust vote.”
Rangaswamy also mentioned, “If there is a letter from the Lieutenant Governor, I will decide after discussing with allies.”
Reportedly, the union territory can witness the imposition of President’s rule as the opposition parties are not keen on forming a government with the elections being round the corner.
Whatever be the fate of Puducherry until the next elections, the fact of the matter is that the grand old party is surely feeling the thrust of losing its lone government in south India as their political footprint has shrunk further. The party enjoyed a decisive victory in the urban local body elections held in Punjab last week nonetheless, the political challenge which they face is inimical to the leaders and the party.
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