The re-nomination of Union Minister V. Narayanasamy for the lone Lok Sabha seat of Puducherry has triggered a rift in the Congress party in the Union Territory with more senior functionaries resigning from the primary membership of the party.

On Tuesday, S. Rathinam alias Manohar, former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and secretary, communications department, Pradesh Congress Committee, quit the party.

The two other leaders who had also quit the party over the issue included Y. Ismayil, State executive committee member, and Abdul Kadir of Karaikal region, causing ripples in the Puducherry unit just when Mr. Narayanasamy is to file his nomination papers.

Ever since the party high command’s announcement, P. Kannan, one of the top three leaders in the Congress, was keeping himself away from party affairs.

Despite repeated persuasions, Mr. Kannan had been avoiding constituency-level workers meetings and other consultation meetings.

Earlier, a group of 50 persons who had held positions in various wings of the PCC, resigned from their respective posts, protesting against the re-nomination of Mr. Narayanasamy.

Widening the rift within the Puducherry Congress was the speculation that Mr. Kannan might support the All India NR Congress candidate, R. Radhakrishnan, a BJP ally in Puducherry, when the former met Chief Minister N. Rangasamy at a hotel here recently.

To appease the sulking Congress leader, the Congress high command appointed Mr. Kannan as the observer in Karnataka to oversee the electioneering of the party.