Narayanasamy loses trust vote. Will Puducherry go to polls under President’s Rule?

Puducherry goes to polls in April-May along with Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam. But will that happen under President’s Rule?

In the trust vote today, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy lost the motion of confidence. He and his ministers walked out of Puducherry Assembly pinning the blame for the political crisis on former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and the BJP-led central government.

The Narayanaswamy government of the Congress-DMK alliance fell into a crisis after a spate of resignations that led to a controversy ending with the removal of Kiran Bedi as Lt Governor. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan was subsequently given the additional charge of Puducherry.

Six MLAs from the ruling alliance have resigned since mid-January. This brought down the strength to 26. Puducherry Assembly has the strength of 33 MLAs — 30 elected, three nominated. All three nominated are BJP MLAs.

The Crisis

It began with the resignation of health and family welfare minister Malladi Krishna Rao on January 13 as minister, and as an MLA on February 15. Incidentally, Rao was part of the delegation that Narayanasamy led to President Ram Nath Kovind earlier seeking removal of Kiran Bedi as Lt Governor of Puducherry.

Then, on January 25, PWD minister A Namassivayam and MLA E Theeppainthan quit the Congress to join the BJP. The fourth Congress MLA, who resigned on February 16, was A John Kumar.

Two more MLAs — one each from the Congress and the DMK — K Lakshminarayanan and Venkatesan resigned on Sunday. One Congress MLA, N Danavelu had been disqualified in July 2020 for anti-party activities.

The Numbers

In 2016 Puducherry election, the Congress had won 15 seats out of 30. It had the support of three DMK and one Independent MLA.

The Opposition had 11 MLAs — seven belonging to the All Indian NR Congress led by former Chief Minister N Rangasamy, and four of the AIADMK.

Later, the BJP nominated three members. They are allowed to vote.

With the spate of resignations, the Congress has nine MLAs on its side. It has the support of two DMK and one Independent MLAs. The count stands at 12 including Speaker V P Sivakolundhu of the Congress. The Speaker can only vote in the case of a tie.

The Opposition — led by Rangasamy but seemingly dominated by the BJP — has 14 MLAs on its side.

Politicking During Trust Vote

With numbers stacked against him, Narayanasamy used the trust vote on the floor of Puducherry Assembly as the launchpad for the upcoming election. He blamed former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi for the political crisis while listing out his government’s achievements.

Narayanasamy attempted to make it an emotive political issue playing the victim card as he said Kiran Bedi and the Centre colluded to destabilise his government ahead of the Puducherry Assembly election.

What Next?

With Narayanasamy failing to prove majority in the Puducherry Assembly, his government is in minority. The role of Lt Governor Soundarajan has become pivotal now. She has three options:

1. Soundarajan may ask Narayanasamy to continue as caretaker chief minister till election is held.

2. She may invite the Opposition led by Rangasamy to form the government.

3. She may recommend the Centre to impose President’s Rule till assembly election is held in Puducherry. She can do so before or after inviting Rangasamy to stake claim to form the next government.

Narayanasamy too can recommend dissolution of Puducherry Assembly and impose President’s Rule. But since his government has lost trust vote, Lt Governor Soundarajan is not bound by his advice. So, whether Puducherry go to polls under President’s Rule depends on the assessment of Soundarajan.

Source – India Today