Major challenges await All India NR Congress leader N. Rangasamy, who took over as Chief Minister of Puducherry for a record fourth time on Friday, as he would be be heading a coalition government for the first time.
He became the Chief Minister in 2001 as a Congress nominee after Puducherry Munnetra Congress, headed by P. Kannan, merged his regional outfit with the national party. He was sworn in Chief Minister for the second time in 2006 but was dethroned mid-way in 2008 due to a rebellion. He later broke ranks and founded the AINRC, which he guided to a historic win in 2011, bagging15 of the 17 seats the party contested in the 30-member Assembly. Dumping his pre-poll partner, AIADMK, the AINRC chief formed a government with an Independent’s support.
Now into the fourth term as Chief Minister with the AINRC having just 10 seats, things are far different politically as he is dependent on the ambitious ally BJP, which has already demanded a huge slice of the Ministries, including the Deputy Chief Minister’s post. After Mr. Rangasamy, along with BJP leaders, met Lt, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on May 3 to stake claim to form the government, there were reports that the entire cabinet would assume office at one go.
“We wanted to have at least Deputy Chief Minister to take oath along with the Chief Minister. But he [Rangasamy] wanted to have his swearing-in ceremony first. These are not issues, our members will swear in very shortly,” a top BJP leader insisted to The Hindu.
Mr. Rangasamy had made it clear that there was no precedent of having a Deputy Chief Minister in the Union Territory but he would look into the demand once the Union government created such a post.
Though the immediate challenge before the Chief Minister would be to accommodate the political aspirations of the BJP, his leadership would be put to test in the immediate future in accommodating his own partymen in key positions.
Besides political challenges, the Chief Minister would have the task of containing the spread of COVID-19 cases, disbursal of salary to around 8,000 workers in public sector undertakings/boards/societies pending for last several months and revival of century-old mills depended upon by hundreds of people in Puducherry.