Puducherry Assembly Elections | Decision not to contest a personal one based on various factors: V. Narayanasamy

V. Narayanasamy. File  

Former Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, in an interview with The Hindu, says his decision not to contest in the April 6 Assembly election was a personal one and taken in consultation with the Congress leadership. Edited excerpts:

You led the Congress government in Puducherry when your party had plunged into a crisis, with Ministers and legislators quitting. But now you are not contesting in the election. Won’t this impact your party’s prospects?

From the time the Congress came to power in 2016, the Central government had tried to create hurdles to the functioning of the government by stalling funds for welfare and development works. The previous Lt. Governor [Kiran Bedi] adopted a confrontational approach by interfering in the day-to-day administration. At the fag end of my tenure, a few [BJP] leaders from Delhi and Bengaluru landed in Puducherry and toppled the government. They succeeded by murdering democracy and using nominated legislators appointed by the Centre. People are aware of these things.

Also read | AICC was keen to field Narayanasamy, say party leaders

It is the Pradesh Congress Committee [PCC] that is contesting in the election. The fact that I’m not contesting will not have any impact on the election. Even the National Democratic Alliance [NDA] has not announced its chief ministerial candidate.

Was it the party’s decision or your personal decision not to contest?

It was my personal decision taken in consultation with the [party] high command and other leaders. The decision was based on various factors. It is absolutely necessary that we carry on with the election management. It was a collective decision. My service will be required in all the constituencies and I will be doing the campaign along with Lok Sabha member V. Vaithilingam as a team. We will campaign for the victory of the alliance. Our objective is to stop the BJP from coming to power.

The Opposition’s allegation is that during your tenure, you behaved more as a spokesperson of the Congress rather than as a Chief Minister. Your power struggle with Ms. Bedi and the open criticism of the Centre had hampered governance. Your comments?

During my tenure as the Chief Minister, I had the dual responsibility of defending my government and my party, as the head of the government and as a Congress worker. It was my duty to criticise the Centre if its polices were not acceptable to the people or government servants. I had to oppose its policies as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee does. An example of this would be the privatisation of the Puducherry Electricity Department by the Centre, which was opposed by our employees. I had to take a stand and I stood with the employees. Personally, I had very good regard for Ms. Bedi. But as the Lt. Governor, she was undemocratic and autocratic. The Centre was fully supporting her and ignoring the elected government. Therefore, I had no other option but to oppose her and the Centre’s negative attitude to the elected government. Our government was able to implement various projects with great difficulty.

Also read | Congress under siege in its bastion

How do you assess the functioning of Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan?

Some of the decisions taken by Ms. Soundararajan proved that our fight with Ms. Bedi was genuine and right. We were fighting with Ms. Bedi for the clearance of Cabinet decisions and welfare schemes. The Lt. Governor recently cleared the financial assistance for SC students, the pending salaries of government-aided school teachers and the midday meal scheme. I will appreciate Ms. Soundararajan if she clears all the other pending welfare schemes.

You were personally involved in the seat-sharing talks with the DMK. Many of your party functionaries are unhappy that you have surrendered more seats to the Dravidian party, though their strike rate in the last Assembly election was less than the Congress’s...

It is a fact that I took part in the seat-sharing talks. With the DMK bargaining very hard, we were left with no alternative. It was a hard decision taken by the Congress leadership. We know our workers are unhappy. They are not willing to canvas votes for the DMK, but we will convince them because the victory of the alliance is a necessity for the Union Territory. But the Congress is the major partner in the alliance.

The BJP was almost a non-entity in the Union Territory till recently. The party has suddenly become a contender. Why do you think the BJP is so serious in capturing Puducherry?

They want to expand the presence of their party by engineering defections in other parties and enrolling those people in the BJP by using the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate [as tools for intimidating opponents]. They want to come to power with the help of these agencies.

There have been voices within the Congress that want an organisational overhaul. Many leaders have backed or criticised the move by joining the group of 23 dissenters (G-23). You have refrained from making any comments. Would you like to clarify now?

People never revolted against the leadership. What they did was vent their grievances, which is quite natural in every political party. Yes, of course, there is a demand for organisational restructuring and it is being done.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 10:04:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/puducherry-assembly/decision-not-to-contest-a-personal-one-based-on-various-factors-v-narayanasamy/article34103710.ece

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