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From test of numbers to President’s Rule: Four possible scenarios in Puducherry trust vote today

Puducherry floor test: Politically, the crisis in Puducherry is the outcome of a battle between two national parties that has extended from Delhi to the small Union Territory in the south.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: February 22, 2021 11:07:37 am
Puducherry floor test, Puducherry vote, Puducherry trust vote, Puducherry news live, V Narayanasamy, Indian ExpressChief Minister Narayanasamy felicitates L-G Tamilisai Soundararajan after she took charge at Raj Nivas in Puducherry on February 17. (PTI Photo)

With the numbers stacked against the government of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy ahead of Monday’s trust vote in the Puducherry House, four possible scenarios can be imagined.

A test for government in the House, sans adventures

Politically, the crisis in Puducherry is the outcome of a battle between two national parties that has extended from Delhi to the small Union Territory in the south.

Based on the situation late on Sunday evening, it seemed the most likely that the government would fall in the floor test. The Congress-DMK have 12 MLAs (including an Independent who is supporting the government) in the House whose effective strength is now 26, while the opposition alliance has 14 MLAs.

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 victim in the elections that are now barely two months away.

It remains to be seen if he changes that strategy in the few hours that remain before the vote in the House.

Speaker comes into play, disqualifying some MLAs

As things stood on Sunday evening, no one was ruling out the possibility of the Speaker expelling “two or three” opposition MLAs of the N R Congress before the floor test on Monday, citing “digitally recorded” evidence of a conspiracy to topple the government through alleged attempts to influence MLAs of the ruling coalition.

“Purported evidence is doing the rounds in Puducherry, and it suggests that there is an attempt to topple the government,” a senior Congress leader said.

As of now, the opposition has a narrow edge in the numbers game; that will change should the Speaker move to actually disqualify some opposition MLAs.

Taking the battle to BJP, using the BJP’s own methods

There was talk on Sunday evening of a possible show of aggression by the Chief Minister, using the “resources” at his disposal to poach some opposition MLAs at the last minute. The most likely targets of such an operation would be the 4 AIADMK MLAs in the opposition camp who, sources in the Congress said, might be amenable to favouring the ruling coalition “at least by abstaining from the floor test”, should the “negotiations” succeed.

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Government is dissolved, Centre takes direct control

Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, a former Tamil Nadu state president of the BJP, may take the decision to dissolve the government. This, senior government officials in the Union Territory said, could be the BJP’s option if things do not go its way on Monday.

The L-G can send a report to the Centre recommending President’s Rule in Puducherry, officials said. “She can cite possible law and order crises or chaos in the government. Any inconclusive scenario in the floor test also can be used to impose President’s Rule,” one senior official said.

In this scenario, the Centre’s control over Puducherry can continue for some months — and possibly longer — as the BJP works to create a situation best suited to it before facing Assembly elections. This, in fact, is a possibility that many in Puducherry welcome — in the hope that once the Centre is in direct control, it would facilitate improvements in the state’s financial situation, including the payment of pending wages of many government employees.

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