April 5, 2021 10:48:26 pm
Two months after it courted controversy with the toppling of the Congress government and unprecedented defections from the ruling party, the BJP — which earlier did not have a single elected representative in the Assembly — is now part of an alliance that ostensibly has a clear edge as Puducherry goes to polls on Tuesday.
The Assembly has 33 seats, and the BJP is contesting nine in an alliance with the All India NR Congress, which has 16 candidates in the fray. There are five candidates of AIADMK too in the alliance. Of the 33 seats, three are nominated — former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi nominated three BJP workers as MLAs.
In the UPA alliance, which is in a bad shape after the fall of the government, the Congress is contesting 14 seats, the DMK 13, while CPI and Dalit party VCK are sharing one seat each.
The 30 seats in the Union territory comprise an electorate of 10.03 lakh.
While the Congress-DMK alliance is facing an uphill task due to anti-incumbency — the Congress even forced former CM Narayansamy to stay away from the election — the AINR Congress-BJP alliance is likely to enter into a tussle over the choice of CM candidate.
AINR Congress leader and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy has made it clear that he will be the CM if the alliance wins and made that a condition to enter the NDA alliance, but the saffron party is yet to rule out the desire to have its own CM in Puducherry — it was said to be a reason behind the toppling of the Congress government.
Top sources in the AINR Congress and BJP said that it continues to be a namesake alliance as the BJP is yet to accept Rangasamy as the CM candidate. And there are multiple options before the BJP to sabotage Rangasamy’s plans; win maximum seats and gather the support of more MLAs to make BJP’s A Namasivayam as the CM. Nearly half-a-dozen Congress MLAs had quit the Congress government and many of them joined BJP along with Namasivayam.
V Saminathan, the chief of BJP in Puducherry, told The Indian Express on Monday that the CM candidate will be decided only after polls. “BJP is part of the winning alliance. We have done a very good job in the past few weeks. We are sure that our alliance will be winning more than 20 seats. And the CM candidate will be announced by NDA leadership after polls,” he said.
While BJP leaders strongly believe that they will have their CM after polls, multiple sources in the AINR Congress said they were not working for BJP candidates to keep the saffron party’s strength “weaker” knowing the BJP’s plan to move against Rangasamy after polls.
A senior BJP leader said they will look into the possibility of gaining support of MLAs from other parties after polls to ensure their CM candidate.
On the UPA’s prospects, a senior Congress leader said his party’s fate was written on the wall even if Narayanasamy had not faced trouble from Kiran Bedi. “BJP had no valid reason, except to embarrass the Congress leadership in Delhi, to topple the previous government just before elections. It would have been defeated even otherwise as people weren’t in favour of Narayanasamy regime,” he said.
Narayanasamy was not available for comment.
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