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The BJP’s gameplan in Puducherry: Five key points to note

Puducherry political crisis: What does the BJP stand to gain in a Union Territory where it is yet to establish deep roots, and has only three nominated MLAs in the Assembly?

Written by Liz Mathew , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 24, 2021 6:51:54 am
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy speaks during a special Assembly session, in Puducherry, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Narayanasamy resigned after he failed to prove his majority in the House. (PTI Photo)

On Monday, the V Narayanasamy government in Puducherry, the only Congress government in the South, lost power following a spate of resignations of party MLAs over the past month. Before tendering his resignation, Narayanasamy blamed the fall of his government on the games played by the BJP.

But what does the BJP stand to gain in a Union Territory where it is yet to establish deep roots, and has only three nominated MLAs in the Assembly?

And why has the BJP, which is in alliance with the N R Congress and the AIADMK, allowed this drama to unfold almost on the eve of scheduled Assembly elections?

Sources in the BJP say the party has reasons to be pleased about the developments in Puducherry.

FIRST, the BJP, which had declared its intentions of having a Congress-mukt Bharat when it came to power, has been on a mission to show the Congress and its leadership in as poor light as possible.

The opposition party’s losses – be it in Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, or Arunachal Pradesh – has reinforced the image of the Congress as a “party that cannot rule or hold its people together”, and that “its ideology is no longer relevant for the country”, BJP leaders said.

“What happened in Puducherry is just an add-on. Not that the BJP is going to form a government immediately, but it just reinforced the national narrative the BJP has been building,” said a senior BJP leader who is familiar with the party’s functioning in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. “Since it happened just ahead of the Assembly election, no one can say that the BJP was hungry for power. Rather, the focus will be on the Congress’s failure, and its leadership’s inability to retain power,” the leader added.

SECOND, according to this leader, “whatever be the outcome of the elections, it will be a gain for the BJP”. Of the five MLAs who resigned from the Congress, three have already joined the BJP. Others are also expected to follow, or they could contest as Independents, party sources said.

“This will further weaken the Congress in the state, and it might strengthen its ally DMK as well. It makes the chances of a Congress government bleak,” said a source.

THIRD, BJP leaders said the party had been in touch with the disgruntled Congress MLAs for long – as the Narayanasamy government weakened, and the Congress leadership failed to intervene in Puducherry. They could have brought down the government at any time, claimed a BJP leader – however, the move was finally made on the eve of elections so that the rebels could keep their supporters enthused as they contested again.

“When a rebellion happens just ahead of elections, capitalising on the angst is easier,” a BJP leader said.

A Namassivayan, who resigned as PWD Minister and joined the BJP, has considerable political influence in his Villianur constituency and surrounding areas. Such leaders can draw votes for the BJP in their areas, party leaders said.

FOURTH, BJP leaders said any move to destabilise the Congress government while Kiran Bedi was Lieutenant Governor could have hurt the image of both the BJP and the central government, due to the long drawn-out battle between her and Chief Minister Narayanasamy.

“By removing Bedi from the post, we have controlled the damage. If this had happened while Bedi was there, the party and the central government would have been blamed,” a BJP office-bearer said.

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FIFTH, it isn’t just Bedi’s removal – her replacement too, was part of the BJP’s plan, according to party leaders. Making Tamilisai Soundararajan L-G has not only helped the party avoid criticism, having a Tamilian in the post is also expected to boost the BJP in terms of perception.

BJP leaders, however, conceded that efforts to put together a new government at this stage could create sympathy for Narayanasamy. The party remains undecided over the N R Congress demand for a new government in the state.

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