In the Puducherry union territory, a rosy path is ahead for the ANR-BJP-AIADMK led alliance in taking over the mantle from the Congress-DMK combine if the present indications are a pointer.
In the 30 member Puducherry legislature, Congress had won 15 seats, All India NR Congress eight seats, AIADMK got four seats and DMK walked away with two MLAs. Following this hung verdict, Congress (15 MLAs) formed a government with DMK (3) and a lone independent MLA. The Congress-led government in Puducherry fell before completing its five-year term under Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy. He had resigned on February 22 ahead of a floor test in the 33 member house (including three nominated BJP MLAs) following the resignations of five Congress and one DMK MLAs. Though Narayanaswamy blamed the BJP for toppling his government in the Union territory, his party MLAs and lone DMK deserted them due to various reasons.
A Namassivayam, the second in command and who was projected as the CM candidate in the 2016 elections first started the ball moving by quitting the party and membership from the legislature. His trusted lieutenant and minister E Theepaindan followed suit. Another Congress MLA N Dhanavelu was disqualified in July for anti-party activities. A John Kumar’s resignation came a day after health minister Malladi Krishna Rao put in his papers. With him four congress MLAs quit over the party. Interestingly, John Kumar’s resignation came a day after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the UT as part of poll preparation. Barring Malladi Krishna Rao, others are in now BJP party. Assembly speaker VP Sivakolundhu, a congress MLA, also resigned the speaker post citing health reasons. His brother VP Ramalingam and son Ramesh joined BJP. A John Kumar, his son and former DMK MLA K Venkatesan have also joined BJP and are contesting the April 6 elections.
Former Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy was not given a seat this time as Rahul was unhappy over his performance particularly unable to keep the flock intact. Also, he penalized him for the wrong translation of a fisherwoman’s complaint as a compliment.
The All India N R Congress-led former CM N Rangaswamy is leading the NDA alliance in the UT by fielding 16 candidates, BJP and AIADMK are contesting 9 and 5 seats respectively.
The Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) led by Congress is contesting 15 seats while the DMK will fight on 13. The CPI and the Vidhuthalai Chirthaigal Katchi (VCK) is contesting each one seat. It is a setback for the Congress, who had contested 21 seats and won 15 in the 2016 assembly elections. The DMK had fought on 9 but only won 2 seats.
Department of Election said as many as 324 candidates are in the fray for the April 6th assembly polls in Puducherry. Of the 382 candidates, whose nominations were found to be in order at the end of scrutiny of nominations on 20th March, 58 withdrew their papers on 23rd March the last date for withdrawal. N Rangaswamy is seeking election from two assembly segments – Thattachavady in Puducherry regime and Yanam an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh. In the SDA alliance, Congress has fielded candidates in 14 seats out of the 15 segments allotted. Pattali Makkal Katchi has withdrawn its candidates from all the 10 seats it had sought to contest and extended its support to the AINRC headed NDA combine.
AICC in-charge of Puducherry Dinesh Gundu Rao said former CM Narayanaswamy will not contest in the 2021 elections. Narayanaswamy told the media that Amit Shah had levelled wholly baseless accusations that I had given ‘cut money’ to the Sonia Gandhi family from the 15,000 crore Central funds allocated for the Puducherry while addressing the meeting last month. “I am ready to face any probe into this” he said. In another meeting he said with the sole aim of destabilizing the Puducherry, the AINRC, BJP and AIADMK joined together. Rangaswamy was silent on all these five years.
Union Minister of state for parliamentary affairs and poll in-charge Arjun Ram Meghwal said “whatever Amit Shah said were true on former CM Narayanaswamy. The Centre gave Rs.15,000 crore for the UT but the Congress government could not deliver. It managed funds very badly”. He said, “ we are committed to promoting all Indian languages, including Tamil. I am confidant BJP will win all the nine seats and enter the assembly. NDA will form the next government in Puducherry”.
Congress is one of the main political parties in Puducherry since its integration in 1962. Edouard Goubert from INC was elected as the first CM in 1964. its Narayanaswamy was the last CM of the Union territory before his resignation last month. In the last 56 years, there have been 11 Congress CMs. INC had won in 1964,1985, 1991,2001,2006 and 2016 assembly elections. The Puducherry represents one seat in Lok Sabha, which was won by Congress in the last poll. It had won nine out of 14 times in the Lok Sabha elections.
Prime Minister Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, BJP national president JP Nadda visited the UT recently. PM inaugurated a slew of developmental projects. JP Nadda said he was confident that the Lotus will bloom here after the elections and BJP will form the next government. Nitin Gadkari while addressing a public meeting on 22nd said Puducherry would witness ‘double engine growth’ if NDA is voted to power. He said the Modi government had sanctioned Rs.20,000 crore worth road projects in the UT as part of the overall infrastructure development in the country, which has already at a high level. He also listed out the various projects for the construction of flyovers linking different segments in Puducherry involving an outlay of around Rs.232 crore. He said the growth will be like that of a bullet speed. During the UPA regime, things moved in a snail’s pace , both were ruling both Centre and Puducherry”.
Puducherry goes to the polls on 6th April. Of the 30 assembly seats, five are reserved for the Scheduled caste candidates. As many as 10,02,589 electors will choose the candidates for the 15 legislative assemblies of Puducherry.
The Congress, BJP and AINRC are yet to release their poll manifestos. So what their promises to the Union Territory voters cannot be made out in this article.
According to Asianet News Network-C fore pre-poll survey, the AINRC, BJP and AIADMK alliance is likely to sweep the forthcoming assembly elections with 23-27 seats in the 30 seat assembly. The DMK -Congress front is likely to get more than 3-7 seats. Another pre-poll survey conducted by Times Now-CVoter Opinion Poll, AINRC-BJP-AIADMK is projected to win between 19 and 23 seats, while the United Progressive Alliance comprising Congress and the DMK is expected to win between 7 to 11 seats. The survey says Rangaswamy is the preferred CM with 49.8 per cent votes. Let us wait till May 2 the day when polled votes will be taken for counting.