The All India N.R. Congress (AINRC), an offshoot of the Congress, on Wednesday announced its candidate for the lone Puducherry constituency.

All 14 MLAs of AINRC and an Independent MLA, who is supporting the N. R. Congress government from outside, were present when party founder and Chief Minister N. Rangasamy announced that R. Radhakrishnan, former Speaker of Puducherry Assembly, would be the AINRC candidate for the Puducherry constituency.

The announcement came amid reports of bargaining by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) with the AINRC for the Puducherry seat. The PMK had announced R. K. R. Anandaraman as its candidate about five months back and he has been campaigning in the constituency eversince.

Announcing that the AINRC would be part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance, Mr. Rangasamy told a press conference at his party office that his decision to join the alliance was taken in the interest of Puducherry’s overall “welfare, development and growth.”. The decision would help take the Union Territory to a new trajectory of development.

Mr. Rangasamy said the long pending demand of statehood to Puducherry was one of the reasons for his party’s alliance with the BJP. In spite of several resolutions in the territorial Assembly, campaigns and memorandums, the Centre was yet to accord statehood to Puducherry, which, Mr. Rangasamy said, was essential for the implementation of policies and programmes of the elected government. He was hopeful that the BJP would fulfil the expectation of people if it came to power at the Centre.

When asked whether it was possible for him to implement “distribution of freebies” when the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, was strongly opposed to it, , the Chief Minister said Mr. Modi had been working for overall development of the country and would not hamper implementation of welfare schemes. Meanwhile, AINRC leaders hoped that the PMK would not insist on the Puducherry seat as it had been clearly informed about AINRC’s decision to field a candidate.