Cong loses govt in Puducherry before floor test (2nd Ld)

The Congress lost its lone government in south India with the Congress-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led alliance in Puducherry losing the trust vote, leading to the resignation of Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Monday.

In a day of fast-paced and dramatic developments, the Congress-led government collapsed before facing the floor test in the state Assembly.

After the dramatic walkout by Narayanasamy and his MLAs, Speaker V. P. Sivakozhundu announced that the Congress government had lost its majority.

Narayanasamy drove straight to Raj Nivas to submit his resignation to Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

According to a statement from the Lieutenant Governor’s Secretariat, Narayanasamy called on Tamilisai Soundararajan and submitted the letter of resignation of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers.

“We have submitted the resignation to the Lieutenant Governor. It is now for her to decide,” Narayanasamy told the media.

“In the Assembly, we said only the elected members can vote. The Speaker did not agree and we walked out,” he said.

Speaking in the Assembly, Narayanasamy maintained that the opposition does not have adequate numbers. He argued that the three nominated MLAs, all belonging to the BJP, have no power to cast their votes in a floor test. He had reportedly pinned his hopes on the Speaker not allowing the nominated MLAs to cast their votes.

The Congress leader even quoted the Chief Election Commissioner in support of his argument that the nominated MLAs can’t vote in a floor test. However, the Speaker did not agree with him.

With this the Congress lost its only government in the south. As the Assembly polls in the Union Territory are slated in May this year, it remains to be seen if the Lieutenant Governor recommends President’s rule or invites NR Congress-led opposition alliance to form the government.

The opposition has 14 members in the 30-member Assembly whose effective strength is 28. It also enjoys the support of three nominated MLAs.

After his hard-hitting speech, slamming the Centre for colluding with the opposition to topple his government and arguments over voting rights of three nominated MLAs, Chief Minister Narayanasamy and his MLAs walked out of the House.

Addressing the Assembly ahead of the floor test, Narayanasamy alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is derailing India’s democratic system.

“What is happening in Puducherry now is political prostitution. But the truth will prevail,” he added.

He alleged that former Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and the Centre colluded with the opposition to destabilize his government.

Narayanasamy, whose government was reduced to a minority due to the resignation of six MLAs of the ruling alliance during the last one month, said the MLAs who resigned would not be able to face the people as people would call them ‘opportunists’.

“As our MLAs stayed united, we managed to pull off the last five years. The Centre has betrayed people of Puducherry by not granting funds we requested,” he added.

He claimed that people of the Union Territory are with the Congress-led government. He pointed out that after forming the government with the support of the DMK and Independent MLAs, the alliance won all by-elections.

“People trust us as our government has been elected by them. The opposition who is unable to win the elections is trying to destabilize the government,” he said.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, who took over additional charge of Puducherry Lieutenant Governor on February 18, directed the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the Assembly.

The development came after the opposition alleged that the government was in a minority after the resignation of four MLAs.

Two more legislators resigned on Sunday, reducing the ruling alliance’s strength to 12 in the 30-member Assembly.

The Congress had won 15 Assembly seats during the 2016 elections. It formed the government with the support of two MLAs of the DMK and one Independent MLA.

Congress MLA N. Danavelu was disqualified in July 2020 for indulging in anti-party activities. Four more MLAs resigned from January 13 to February 16.

Puducherry Health and Family Welfare Minister Malladi Krishna Rao quit the ministry on January 13 and resigned as MLA on February 15.

The Public Works Development (PWD) Minister A. Namassivayam resigned both from the ministry and the Assembly on January 25 and subsequently joined the BJP.

Another Congress MLA John A. Kumar resigned on February 16, plunging the government into a crisis.

The last blow for the ruling Congress-led alliance came on Sunday, a day before the floor test, when Congress Legislator K. Lakshminarayanan and DMK Legislator Venkatesan put in their papers.