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Friday, April 23, 2021

In Puducherry, a fledgling alliance fights distrust

AINR Congress leader and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy has made it clear that he will be the CM if the alliance wins; in fact, it was on that condition that the party entered the NDA alliance. But the BJP isn't backing down either.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
April 6, 2021 3:11:47 am
Congress leader and former CM Narayanaswamy is not contesting the election. (PTI)

A little over a month after the Congress government in Puducherry fell following unprecedented defections to the BJP, the NDA seems to have an edge as the Union Territory goes to the polls on Tuesday.

Yet, the biggest challenge for the All India NR Congress-BJP alliance has been to reach an understanding on the CM candidate, with both the parties so far digging in their heels.

AINR Congress leader and former Chief Minister   has made it clear that he will be the CM if the alliance wins; in fact, it was on that condition that the party entered the NDA alliance. But the BJP isn’t backing down either.

Top sources in both the parties said the BJP was yet to accept Rangasamy as CM candidate and instead wanted A Namasivayam for the top job. Namasivayam, the No. 2 in the last Congress Cabinet, had joined the BJP in January with some half-a-dozen Congress MLAs, leading to the fall of the Narayanaswamy-led government.

V Saminathan, Puducherry BJP chief, told The Indian Express on Monday that the CM candidate would be decided only after the polls. “The BJP is part of a winning alliance. We are sure our alliance will win more than 20 seats. And the CM candidate will be announced by the NDA leadership after the polls,” he said.

A senior BJP leader said they would look into the possibility of gaining the support of MLAs from other parties if the AINR Congress sticks to its demand.

The UPA, on the other hand, is facing an uphill battle due to anti-incumbency. The situation is so dire that the Congress even forced Narayansamy to stay away from the election. A senior Congress leader said even if Narayanasamy had not faced trouble from former Governor Kiran Bedi, his party’s fate had been sealed.

“BJP had no reason to topple the previous government except to embarrass the Congress leadership in Delhi. The government would have anyway been defeated as people were not in favour of the Narayanasamy government,” he said.

Narayanasamy was not available for comment.

The Puducherry Assembly has 30 seats, and the BJP is contesting nine in alliance with the AINR Congress, which has 16 candidates in the fray. Five candidates of the AIADMK too are in the alliance. Three seats will have nominated members.

The UPA alliance has the Congress contesting on 14 seats, the DMK on 13, while the CPI and the Dalit party VCK are sharing one seat each.

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