V Narayanasamy struggles to hold on to power in Puducherry despite political guile, loyalty to Gandhis
A floor test on Monday will decide the future of Narayanasamy's government, barely two months before the Assembly polls in the Union Territory are scheduled to be held
In a long-bygone era, V Narayanasamy had the clout to stall the formation of a government at the Central government. In 1996, as the Congress' parliamentary party leader, Narayanasamy was said to be instrumental in the delay of the party's letter of support to the United Front government.
Now, however, Narayanasamy finds himself struggling to hold on to power on his home turf of Puducherry. On Sunday, Congress MLA K Lakshminarayanan and DMK legislator Venkatesan resigned, reducing the strength of the ruling alliance to 11. The Opposition has 14 MLAs in the 33-member Assembly, which has seven vacancies.
A floor test on Monday will decide the future of Narayanasamy's government, barely two months before the Assembly polls in the Union Territory are scheduled to be held.
'Fox' finds himself cornered
Narayanasamy's political guile over the past several decades has earned him the nickname of 'nari', the Tamil word for fox. However, he appears to be in a spot of bother as of now, with his government in Puducherry hanging by a thread.
An indication of the downturn in fortunes for Narayanasamy has been the resignation of John Kumar, considered to be his protégé. Kumar, a businessman, was initiated into politics by the Puducherry chief minister, as noted by the Economic Times. He became the fourth defector, quitting as an MLA at a crucial time for the Congress.
With the Congress government teetering, Opposition parties AIADMK, BJP and NR Congress are waiting to cash in. For the BJP, the crisis offers an opportunity to make inroads in the Union Territory, where it had a negligible presence till now.
However, Narayanasamy, a Gandhi family loyalist, is unlikely to go down easily, having seen many crises in his political career. When he became the chief minister in 2016, he was an unlikely candidate for the post — not having won even a single Assembly election till then. An article in Firstpost from June 2016 anonymously quotes a senior Congress member as saying, "Narayanasamy has played a role in all of the major political upheavals in Puducherry, including the removal of N Rangasamy as Chief Minister in 2008. He is an expert at political subterfuge, and has used it many times. This is what has earned him many rivals, especially former Rajya Sabha MP P Kannan, and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy."
Despite seemingly not having the numbers, Narayanasamy has refused to resign from his post till now. This may mean that he is looking to force the BJP to take action to sack him — which could potentially give him the chance to play the victim in the upcoming elections.
If Narayanasamy loses the trust vote, the L-G may recommend President's Rule in the Union Territory. This would mean that the upcoming elections will take place under President's Rule.
Alternatively, the AIADMK, NR Congress and BJP could come together to form the government. However, as noted by The Times of India, this is unlikely because elections are scheduled to be held soon, and such a move may lead them to lose sympathy with voters.
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