Puducherry govt collapse reflects Congress' continued inability to nip 'rebellion' in the bud
With the collapse of the Puducherry government, the Congress has lost its second government in a year after Madhya Pradesh
With the collapse of the Puducherry government, the Congress has lost its second government in a year after Madhya Pradesh.
Both governments fell because of the resignation of MLAs which reduced the party to a minority in the House.
In both places, the Congress had experienced leaders at the helm in the form of V Narayanasamy and Kamal Nath. However, in both cases, the party was unable to stem the exodus.
Indeed, after the collapse of the Puducherry government on Monday, questions are reportedly being asked within the party about whether senior leaders ignored rumblings of dissent. An article in The Indian Express anonymously quoted a Congress leader as saying that both Narayanasamy and the high command were “overconfident” and “underestimated” both the disgruntlement in the party as also vulnerability of some of its MLAs.
According to the report, Congress leaders have also alleged that attempts to poach MLAs had begun in 2018 itself, when Congress MLAs E Theeppainthan and Vizeaveny V claimed to have received offers to switch sides, along with 'financial and other support.'
In this context, recent attempts by the Opposition in Puducherry to topple the government are unlikely to have come a surprise for the Congress. Despite this, the Grand Old Party was not able to save its government in the Union Territory.
However, with elections only two or three months away, some Congress leaders appear to foresee a chance at reversal of fortunes. According to an article in The Hindu, a section of the Congress leaders in Delhi believe that the fall of the Puducherry government may help the party by creating popular “sympathy” for it, thereby negating any anti-incumbency.
While that may be a possibility in Puducherry, the recent precedent of Madhya Pradesh is not a very promising one. In March 2020, the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh had lost power after 22 MLAs, many of whom were Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists, resigned from the Assembly. Many of them managed to get re-elected in subsequent bypolls after having joined the BJP.
The one bright spot for the Congress in the past year was Rajasthan, where Ashok Gehlot acted swiftly to stave off a possible rebellion in the state government.
While the Congress may well want to learn from the experience of Rajasthan, it would also not be out of place to take into account the allegations of party leaders about the BJP using money power and agencies to topple governments.
In West Bengal, the BJP has consistently attacked the Trinamool Congress over the 'Saradha chit fund scam' and the Narada sting. However, three senior TMC leaders facing allegations in both these cases — Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhkari and Sovan Chatterjee — switched over to the BJP, and have now been given important positions in the saffron party.
In Maharashtra in 2019, the Anti-Corruption Bureau closed nine cases in an "irrigation scam" to which NCP leader Ajit Pawar is alleged to be linked, just 48 hours after he tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The ACB, on its part, claimed that about 3,000 projects from Pawar's tenure as irrigation minister were under the scanner, and that he was found not to be involved in only nine cases.
However, the Congress alleged at the time that closing of corruption cases was being used as a 'bargaining tool.'
Shortly afterwards, Ajit switched sides yet again, resulting in the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.
On the whole, the Congress' allegations about the misuse of Central agencies and money power cannot be brushed aside. However, the party appears to have failed to learn from its success in Rajasthan in preventing an exit of MLAs.
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Assembly Election 2021: Will approach polls with agenda of development and form govt in four states, Puducherry, says BJP
Voting for the Assembly polls in four states and the UT of Puducherry will begin on 27 March, with West Bengal to witness the maximum of eight phases of polling continuing till 29 April
The move comes days after the Congress-led government in the Union Territory lost power during a vote of confidence
If past experience is any indication, the party has often failed to capitalise on its initial bursts of success