Chennai: The Congress government in Puducherry, that has been tackling a series of calculated onslaughts from lieutenant-governor Kiran Bedi and the BJP since the beginning, was pushed to the precipice on Tuesday, on the eve of top party leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit.
A bid by Congress leaders to make Rahul Gandhi have a chance meeting with DMK president M.K. Stalin at the airport on Wednesday with a view to firming up the alliance between the two parties also didn’t work out as Mr Stalin decided to take an early morning flight ahead of Mr Gandhi’s arrival in Chennai.
Meanwhile, in a late-night development, Rashtrapati Bhavan announced that Ms Kiran Bedi will “cease to hold” the office of lieutenant-governor, but no reasons were given. Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has been given the additional charge of Puducherry till a full-time L-G is appointed.
Just as the Congress was planning to accord a grand reception to Rahul Gandhi, two of its MLAs, Malladi Krishna Rao and A. John Kumar, submitted their resignations, bringing down the strength of the Congress to 10 in the 30-member House, forcing chief minister V. Narayanasamy to ponder a mass resignation of all MLAs.
The latest resignations of Mr Krishna Rao, representing Yanam, and a minister in the Narayanasamy Cabinet, and Mr Kumar, elected from Kamaraj Nagar, led to AIADMK MLA A. Anbalagan demanding the resignation of Mr Narayansamy as the CM had lost his majority.
While Mr Narayanasamy, after discussing the issue with his party colleagues, did not put in his papers and decided to weather it out, it is not clear if he would be able to win a trust vote as demanded by Mr Anbalagan.
Though the Congress government started with 15 MLAs of its own and also three from its DMK ally, it started losing one MLA after another. First N. Dhanavelu was disqualified by Speaker V.P. Sivakozhunthu at the behest of the Congress itself for rebelling against Mr Narayanasamy in June 2020.
Later, two other MLAs, A. Namassivayam, a senior member of the party and PWD minister, and E. Theeppainthan quit in January, putting the government in a crisis. The BJP was behind those resignations.
But then, Mr Narayanaswamy enjoyed the support of 12 Congress MLAs, three DMK MLAs and one Independent, which added up to 16, against the Opposition’s 14, which included the three MLAs of the BJP, nominated by Kiran Bedi in 2017.
With the DMK showing a cavalier attitude toward the BJP’s blatant machinations to pull down the government by making two more MLAs resign on Tuesday, the crisis took a new dimension. DMK MLA and leader of the party in the Union Territory R. Siva called on his party president in Chennai to appraise him of the situation back home.
Mr Siva is said to have told his party colleagues that the Congress was on a weak wicket in the Union Territory and suggested that the DMK should go it alone in the next elections, which brought back memories of the DMK’s Puducherry in-charge Jagathrakshakan openly vowing to field candidates in all 30 seats and also winning all of them.
Though that incident in January put a big question mark over the DMK-Congress alliance in general, Mr Stalin and Mr Rahul Gandhi later came out with statements affirming that their alliance was intact.
But now trouble seems to have resurfaced over seat-sharing, with the DMK taking a firm stand on not acceding more than 20 or 22 seats to the Congress in Tamil Nadu. That was the reason why some Congress leaders tried to make Stalin and Rahul Gandhi meet at the airport.
Now it is unlikely that the DMK would even support the Congress government in the event of a no-confidence motion coming up in the Assembly. If that happens, it would also jeopardise the DMK-Congress alliance even in Tamil Nadu.
However, TNCC president K.S. Alagiri has called upon his party cadre from Cuddalore, Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai and Chengalpattu districts of Tamil Nadu to attend the rally of Rahul Gandhi scheduled for 3 pm on Wednesday.