Puducherry Assembly Elections 2016

Race for CM post begins

CM candidate:A poster put up by Congress cadres extolling PPC chief A. Namassivayam on Friday.— Photo: S.S. Kumar  

After the people of Puducherry gave a mandate to the Congress party to rule, it is time now for the party to choose a Chief Minister. Already a couple of names including Pradesh Congress Committee president A. Namassivayam, former Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam and former Union Minister of State V. Narayanasamy have been doing rounds among the party circles.

Among the front-runners for the top post is All India Congress Committee (AICC) president V. Narayanasamy. He had an eye on the post and State politics for several years, but now he seems not unduly interested.

He had been a Rajya Sabha member for three terms from 1985 to 2009.

He was elected Member of Parliament again in 2009 from the Union Territory. Mr. Narayanasamy became Union Minister of State in 2008 and continued to hold the post until the end of United Progressive Alliance Government at Centre.

Mr. Narayanasamy said, “Following the orders of our leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, we worked hard for the victory of the party. People gave the victory to us. We will live up to the expectations of people.”

Asked whether he would aspire to become the Chief Minister, Mr. Narayanasamy said the Chief Minister’s post “is not my cup of tea”.

“However, I am a loyal worker of the party and I will do whatever our leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will ask me to do so,” he said.

The leaders in the party view that the high command may not show much interest to anoint him in the position in the given situation where the party which won only 15 seats is short by a seat to simple majority — the DMK’s two seats gives it a working majority.

Moreover Mr. Narayanasamy has not contested in the Assembly. If he becomes Chief Minister, one among the 15 MLAs has to vacate a seat to seek election and the party has to face a by-poll.

In 2000, Congress leader P. Shanmugam became the Chief Minister and Malladi Krishna Rao vacated his seat for him to be elected from Yanam. In the present situation, the party high command may not prefer such a route to accommodate Mr. Narayanasamy, sources added.

Perhaps another probable candidate for the post is former Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam. He is a son of former Chief Minister Venkata Subbareddiyar and has the advantage of previous experience as Chief Minister.

He was Leader of Opposition in the preceding Assembly apart from having the distinction of being an MLA for more than 30 years in Puducherry Assembly.

Being a loyalist of the party, his close circle has not completely ruled him out from the race for the post.

But, given his nature, he would likely to wait for the post come to him rather than lobby for it.

Bright chance

The chances of Pradesh Congress Committee president A. Namassivayam becoming the Chief Minister of Puducherry are the brightest, said sources in the party. The 47-year-old leader was given an assignment by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to revive the party and return to power when he was appointed PCC president a year ago. He accomplished his mission. Another factor which favours Mr. Namassivayam is that he belongs to Vanniyar community which is a decisive vote bank in Puducherry and Karaikal regions. Moreover Mr. Namassivayam has the added advantage of being younger than other probable candidates.

Political observers said that the Congress leadership would be wary of repeating the costly mistake of alienating this community as it was perceived to have done when it unseated Mr. Rangasamy.

Forcing the resignation of Mr. Rangasamy prompted him to campaign against Congress in 2011 Assembly polls that resulted in the party’s defeat. The Congress party would not repeat the mistake. Incidentally, Mr. Namassivayam is a close relative of the outgoing Chief Minister Mr. Rangasamy and the son-in-law of his elder brother N. Adhikesavan.

When Mr. Namassivayam assumed charge as president of PCC a year ago, he had declared that he would dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the growth of the party and would work hard to bring the party to power in 2016 Assembly polls.

According to party sources, the DMK will be given a berth in the cabinet as the Congress needs the ally’s crutch for a functional majority. In that case, senior most MLA R. Siva is likely to get the chance.

In the Congress party, K. Lakshminarayanan, M. Candasamy, M.O.H. Shajahan, Malladi Krishna Rao and R. Kamalakannan are also likely to be given cabinet posts.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 5:58:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/puducherry2016/race-for-cm-post-begins/article8627935.ece

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