Congress begins firefighting exercise

Leadership deputes Sanjay Dutt to hold talks with ‘disgruntled legislators’ ahead of Budget session

Hectic parleys are on to sort out differences within the legislative wing of the ruling Congress before the Assembly is reconvened for passing the annual budget around the middle of this month.

For a while, there have been murmurs of dissent brewing in the party forcing the All India Congress Committee to depute party secretary in-charge of the Union Territory Sanjay Dutt to hold parleys with “disgruntled legislators”, including Minister for Public Works and Pradesh Congress Committee president A. Namassivayam.

Mr. Dutt was here last week and would be making a second visit on Thursday to hold a second round of consultations with the Chief Minister, Ministers, MLAs and other senior leaders.

Though two MLAs — M.N.R. Balan and E. Theeppainthan — have been making discordant statements for long, what prompted the party high command to swing into action was the absence of Mr. Namassivayam from the Cabinet meet on August 1. Mr. Namassivayam, though, cited personal reasons for not attending the meeting.

However, he continued to stay away from two other subsequent occasions attended by the Chief Minister, including Sunday’s all-party meeting to discuss the implementation of 10% reservation for economically weaker sections and draft New Education Policy.

Mustering up numbers

The party high command was worried about reports that Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister K. Lakshminarayanan, who had left for the U.S. on a private visit two weeks ago, would be returning to the U.T. only by the end of this month or early September.

Upset over not being considered for the Speaker’s position after V. Vaithilingam got elected to the Lok Sabha, Mr. Lakshminarayanan has been keeping a low profile.

He had abstained from attending the Assembly the day V.P. Sivakolundhu took over as Speaker and had only made a brief appearance in a subsequent two-day session of the Assembly.

“Now, it seems the Parliamentary Secretary would be unavailable for the Budget session. The Assembly has to be convened to pass the Budget before August 31,” a senior party functionary told The Hindu.

The AICC was seized of the issues confronting the party affairs in the U.T., he said and added that Mr. Dutt had already briefed general secretary Mukul Wasnik about the issues. Mr. Dutt would be back on Thursday to participate in the August 9 Quit India Movement celebrations. He would be holding one-on-one meetings with Ministers and MLAs to iron out the differences, the functionary said.

According to a Minister, Mr. Dutt had called Mr. Namassivayam on Friday night. “They have discussed all issues. We are hopeful of finding a solution at the earliest,” he said.

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy refused to comment on the “internal developments”.

In the 33 member Legislative Assembly, Congress has 14 members, ally DMK 3 and has the support of the lone Independent member. The principal Opposition party, All India N. R Congress has 7, its allies All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 4 and Bharatiya Janata Party three members. Kamarajanagar seat is vacant as Mr. Vaithilingam resigned after being elected to the Lok Sabha.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:46:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/congress-begins-firefighting-exercise/article28828036.ece

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