Resignation of one more Congress MLA, A John Kumar, from Puducherry assembly on Tuesday seems to have pushed the Congress-DMK government below the majority mark in the Union Territory. The ruling coalition and the opposition NR Congress-AIADMK-BJP alliance now have 14 MLAs each in the House that has a current effective strength of 28. The jolt to the Congress came a day ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Puducherry.
The coalition of the ministry was thus reduced to a minority due to a spate of resignations of party MLAs and a DMK legislator recently. And even as the writing on the wall became increasingly clear during the week, the Chief Minister has refused to resign, indicating that he wanted to push the BJP to take action to sack him — which could potentially give him the chance to play the victim in the elections that are now barely two months away.
Not with standing following a demand from the Opposition led by All India NR Congress founder N Rangasamy, the floor test was ordered on Thursday by Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Telangana Governor, immediately after she was handed an additional charge of Puducherry. Soundararajan was sworn in after the former Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi was removed from the post.
Soundarajan had last week summoned the assembly’s one-day special session for Monday, mandating its agenda should be confined only to trust vote after the opposition petitioned her, saying that the government had been reduced to a minority due to the resignations.
Ahead of the Assembly Session, CM Narayansamy emphasised that the Congress government has the majority in the state. Stating that the Opposition who is unable to win in the elections is trying to destabilize the govt, the CM said, “They (public) trust us, this is a government elected by the people of Puducherry.” What is happening in Puducherry now is political prostitution. But the truth will prevail,” says CM V Narayanasamy in his speech ahead of the floor test accusing BJP of derailing India’s democratic system.
On Monday, after mounting an attack on the central government and former lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi, Narayanasamy moved the motion seeking the confidence vote minutes after the assembly met for a special one-day session, however, he and his ruling side MLAs later walked out before the motion was put for voting. Narayanasamy was headed to the Raj Nivas, possibly to meet Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.
Subsequently, Speaker V P Sivakolundhu announced that the motion for confidence vote moved by the CM was defeated, even as it was not taken for either voice vote or division.
The Congress the government in Puducherry fell on Monday, February 22, after CM V Narayanasamy resigned ahead of the confidence vote in the assembly. Narayanasamy met lieutenant governor Tamilisai Soundarajan and submitted the resignation of his four-member cabinet, ahead of the assembly elections due in April-May this year.
After submitting his resignation, Narayansamy said the Speaker’s ruling was incorrect and also slammed the BJP, AIADMK, and the AINRC. Holding that speaker V P Sivakolundhu did not put to vote the motion moved by him for a confidence vote, the Congress veteran said the former’s ruling that it stood defeated was “incorrect and invalid”. Narayanasamy dubbed the turn of events as “murder of democracy” and said that legal experts would be contacted on the matter.
DMK chief M K Stalin, whose party is an ally of Congress, also slammed the BJP for the fall of the government and hailed Narayanasamy for “upholding the democracy”.
Rajasthan chief minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot called the developments in Puducherry as most unfortunate and accused the BJP of undermining democracy in the country. “What has happened in Puducherry is most unfortunate and yet another case of how BJP is destabilising Congress government to grab power through unethical means. First, they created problems in running the administration through the Lieutenant Governor and now this has happened,” he said in a series of tweets.
“The people are watching what tactics BJP is adopting and the party will be taught a lesson by AICC in-charge for Puducherry Dinesh Gundu Rao on Twitter lashed out at the BJP, accusing the party of “killing democracy” yet again. “Using ED, IT and other agencies, spending crores of rupees they have toppled an elected government. The Congress will go to the people, the people of Puducherry will give a befitting reply in the elections,” he tweeted in the next elections in Puducherry.
A section of BJP leaders on Twitter blamed Rahul Gandhi for the collapse of the Puducherry government. Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan tweeted: “V Narayanasamy led Congress loses the majority in the floor test. Alliance leaders walked out maybe because Rahul Gandhi termed fishermen as the ‘farmers of the sea’ while addressing a gathering in Puducherry and claimed that they didn’t have representation while some others mocked Rahul over his ‘Midas touch’.
The Aam Aadmi Party slammed the Congress after its government collapsed in Puducherry, saying ” They can’t save their own government. How will the Congress save the country?”
With the fall of its government in Puducherry Congress has lost its last fort in South India. It is a rare occurrence in the history of the party for which South India has always been its stronghold.
BJP state unit president V Saminathan told the Hindustan Times that the party will not try to form a government at this stage but said that the NDA will form a government after the forthcoming elections. “With the people’s blessings in the forthcoming elections and [Prime Minister Narendra] Modiji’s leadership, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will form a government with BJP and its alliance partners All India NR Congress and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in May and build a new bright future for the people of Puducherry,” Saminathan said.
In a crucial development on Tuesday, AIADMK declared that the opposition has no intention of forming a new government in Puducherry before the Assembly polls. A day earlier, the Congress-led government in the Union Territory collapsed as it had the support of only 12 MLAs in the 26-member Puducherry Assembly. After losing the trust vote, CM V Narayanasamy submitted his resignation to the L-G Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan. Thus, the L-G might ask Narayansamy to continue as a stop-gap arrangement or prefer President’s Rule.