In a surprising development, Chandra Priyanka, the Transport Minister of Puducherry, tendered her resignation from her ministerial position on October 10, citing personal reasons. This decision comes amidst a period of political uncertainty and leadership transitions in the Union Territory, where the ruling party holds a slender majority in the Legislative Assembly. Any potential reshuffling of the cabinet or shifts in political alliances could carry significant implications for the political landscape of the Union Territory.
Puducherry is currently governed by an NR Congress-BJP coalition, led by Chief Minister Rangasamy. Among the four ministers representing NR Congress, Chief Minister Rangasamy holds a prominent position. Chandra Priyanka, a Minister from All India NR Congress, made history as the second woman minister in the union territory’s 41-year existence. She was the inaugural female minister from Karaikal Nedungadu, and notably, the first female minister elected in 41 years in 2021. Her father, Chandrakasu, held the position of MLA for the Nedungadu constituency six times. Following his passing, Chandra Priyanka contested and won from the same constituency in 2016, subsequently serving in various ministerial roles.
In a two-page letter dated October 10, written in Tamil, Chandra Priyanka expressed that she could no longer contend with the deceptive politics and extended her apologies to her constituency. She stated, “It is commonly believed that women from marginalised backgrounds face numerous challenges in politics. I have been tirelessly working for the people, making the most of the opportunities presented to me.”
She continued, “As a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I have served my constituents with utmost dedication. I am penning this letter amid the intricate web that surrounds me. Despite the general belief that women from disadvantaged backgrounds face hardships in politics, I have persevered, utilizing the opportunities at hand. As a Dalit woman, I carried a twofold pride, unaware that it was imposed by others. I endured persistent racial and gender-based attacks. It is uncivilized for patriarchal groups to take matters into their own hands, yet I remained a constant target. I cannot endure beyond a certain point.”
Chandra Priyanka chastised those who blindly criticized her ministerial activities, assuring them that she would soon provide a detailed account of the changes and progress she had initiated in her departments since taking office. She acknowledged her indebtedness to the electorate who had chosen her as a legislator. However, recognising the impracticality of persisting as a minister while contending against dominant forces, she opted to resign from her ministerial post. She unequivocally criticized male chauvinists who had acted against her, deeming their actions uncivilized and unjust.
She extended her gratitude to Chief Minister N. Rangaswamy and earnestly implored him. Notably, she urged for a ministerial berth to be accorded to either a Dalit, Vanniyar, or minority community MLA to ensure fairness and allow them to continue their upliftment efforts for their respective communities. She cautioned against appointing individuals lacking public support but wielding financial and influential clout, expressing apprehension that they might misuse their position to exploit and harass these dominant communities.
Chandra Priyanka apologised sincerely to her constituents and pledged to continue fulfilling her legislative duties. She thanked Chief Minister Rangaswamy for entrusting her with the post and made a humble request. She acknowledged that, even with popular backing, navigating the complex realm of politics, rife with intrigue and financial clout, was no easy feat. As a Dalit woman, she carried a dual sense of pride, unaware that it was imposed by others, and felt a constant onslaught on the fronts of caste and gender.
In her letter, she revealed that she had also experienced racial assault. She expressed her gratitude to Chief Minister Rangaswamy for affording her the opportunity to serve in a cabinet position. Without explicitly naming the BJP, she extended thanks to “those who have been championing women empowerment and advocating for 33 per cent reservation” on public platforms. This was perceived as an indirect critique of the BJP.
During her tenure, Priyanka introduced a range of measures aimed at enhancing the efficiency of public transportation in Puducherry. She spearheaded the implementation of new technological systems to streamline ticketing processes, thereby enhancing the overall experience for passengers. Additionally, she instituted more stringent safety regulations for public transport vehicles, prioritizing the well-being of commuters and working towards creating a safer environment for all.