A day after the Congress announced 14 out its 15 candidates for the elections in Puducherry, the party Wednesday said former Chief Minister V Narayanasamy will not be contesting the polls, prompting many to conclude that the high command was upset with Narayanasamy.
Narayanasamy was Chief Minister till last month. He tendered his resignation on February 22 after a Motion of Confidence was defeated in the Assembly. The floor test was called by L-G Tamilisai Soundararajan following a spate of resignations by Congress MLAs.
Congress’s decision not to field Narayanasamy has surprised many, given the fact that party leaders had been arguing there was a sympathy factor in his favour over the way his government was “toppled”. Several leaders had said the party was banking on the sympathy factor. They had also been claiming that there was anger against the BJP-led central government in the UT over the way former L G Kiran Bedi had functioned.
Narayanasamy was at the centre of both the planks.
The Congress announced 14 candidates Tuesday, leaving Narayanasamy’s Nellithope seat. Talking to The Indian Express, AICC in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said “he himself did not want to contest. We had asked him to look after the campaign. Our PCC president is going to be contesting. He (Narayanasamy) and Lok Sabha MP (and former Chief Minister) V Vaithilingam will be in charge of the campaign and other issues concerning elections.”
Sources in the Congress said the high command was not happy with Narayanasamy as many believe resentment against his style of functioning was a major reason for many MLAs leaving the party. “Of course, there are individual ambitions. Money played a part too….but it cannot be denied that many of the MLAs were unhappy with Narayanasamy,” a senior leader said.
Some of the Congress leaders had said earlier that both Narayanasamy and the high command had “underestimated” the discontent brewing in the party as also the vulnerability of some of its MLAs. “The Chief Minister was confident. The party went by what he said. In hindsight, we should have been more cautious. Look at the way he twisted a complaint made by a woman at a public interaction held by Rahul Gandhi in Puducherry….That happened in Gandhi’s presence….That incident was very embarrassing,” a leader said.
A video of the interaction had gone viral, showing the woman complaining in Tamil to Gandhi about the UT government’s negligence in the aftermath of cyclone Nivar and saying the Chief Minister did not even visit them. Narayanasamy, however, translated to Gandhi saying she said that “at that time… during cyclone Nivar…sir…I came and visited the area…and gave relief to them…that she is referring.”