Impressive start

Published : Jun 03, 2011 00:00 IST

The fledgling AINRC, which broke away from the Congress, emerges as the largest single party in the 30-member Puducherry Assembly.

AS the campaign for the April 13 Assembly election reached a crescendo, a senior leader of the Congress in Puducherry described the battle in the Union Territory as one between an individual and a party and said the people should think about who were the right persons to provide good governance.

The leader was referring to the locking of horns by the alliance led by the fledgling All India NR Congress (AINRC) and the combine headed by the Congress for the 30-member Assembly. He even claimed that the people of Puducherry had decided to vote for the Congress. But the spectacular victory of the AINRC, founded by former Congress Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, and its principal ally, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), has disproved all such theories.

The electoral outcome also showed that the patience and perseverance of Rangasamy, who was unceremoniously removed from chief ministership in August 2008, had paid off. He bounced back and trampled the ruling combine in this election. Rangasamy resigned as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and quit the Congress in January 2011. He formed the AINRC a month later.

Shortly after receiving the election certificate from the returning officer on May 13, Rangasamy described the AINRC-led combine's victory as the triumph of people's wish.

Soon after the election results came out, Chief Minister and Congress veteran V. Vaithilingam submitted his resignation. We accept the people's verdict and will continue to work for the people's welfare by fulfilling our obligation as a constructive opposition, he said.

The AINRC won 15 of the 17 seats it contested, while the AIADMK bagged five of the 10 seats where it fielded its nominees. Three of its electoral allies the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam drew a blank. The CPI(M) was not allotted the seats for which it had staked its claim. But the AINRC-AIADMK combine did not field its nominees in Mahe against the CPI(M)'s T.K. Gangadharan. The party put up its candidate, C.H. Balamohan, at Lawspet. Both the candidates lost the elections. However, the CPI(M) campaigned for the front's candidates in all the other constituencies.

Rangasamy emerged with flying colours, trouncing his Congress rivals by huge margins in two constituencies. He defeated his one-time political mentor V. Pethaperumal at Kadirgamam by 9,757 votes and V. Aromougam, a political novice, by 16, 677 votes in Indra Nagar.

Barring Mangalam and Villianur, the AINRC won all the nine seats where it faced the Congress. Among the prominent winners in the AINRC-AIADMK camp are the secretary of the AIADMK's Puducherry unit, A. Anbalagan, from Oupalam, and his party colleague Om Sakthi Sekar from Nellithope. The party's candidates also got elected in Manavely, Mudaliarpet and Nettapakkam. The AINRC's candidates emerged successful also in Ariankuppam, Bahour, Embalam, Kalapet, Lawspet, Mannadipet, Nedungadu, Orleampeth, Oussudu, Ozhukarai, Thattanchavadi, Thirubhuvanai and Thirunallar.

Although Vaithilingam pulled off an impressive win from Kamaraj Nagar defeating N. Kalainathan, the CPI's Puducherry secretary, the Congress suffered a severe jolt by losing 10 of the 17 seats it contested. Assembly Speaker R. Radhakrishnan, Minister for Public Works M.O.H.F. Shahjahan, and Social Welfare Minister M. Candassamy were among the prominent losers in the Congress camp. Owing to the delimitation of the Assembly segments, they tried their luck this time at Bahour, Kalapet and Embalam, respectively.

However, Revenue Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, Health Minister E. Valsaraj, and Minister for Local Administration A. Namasivayam were re-reelected from Yanam, Mahe and Villianur respectively.


The plight of its ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was even worse. The DMK was able to retain only two of the 10 seats it contested. Former Chief Minister and DMK heavyweight R.V. Janakiraman suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the AIADMK's Om Sakthi Sekar at Nellithope. The DMK suffered another embarrassment as its official nominee was humbled by party rebel and former Speaker of the Assembly, V.M.C. Sivakumar, who entered the fray as an independent, in Neravy-T.R.Pattinam in the Karaikal region. However, the Leader of the DMK Legislature Party, A.M.H. Nazeem, emerged unscathed from Karaikal South.

Among the other constituents of the Congress-DMK front, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which fielded its nominees in two constituencies, could not open its account. The lone Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi nominee was also defeated.

Apart from the alleged commissions and omissions of the Congress, observers say the ruling combine's defeat can be attributed to complacency. The prediction of Congress leaders, including Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy, that the AINRC would collapse like a house of cards even before the election proved wrong. Their argument that the Union Territory depended on the Union government for funds for welfare schemes and development works, which was possible only by a Congress government, cut no ice with voters.


Political observers also maintain that leaders of the Congress-DMK camp underestimated the strength and winnability of the AINRC.

Rangasamy, a man of few words, made a speech that lasted for over three hours at the first political rally of the nascent party on March 6. He described himself as a victim of the political conspiracy hatched by a section of the local leadership of the Congress. The party high command was also misled on several issues, he claimed in the speech. Accusing these persons of being jealous of his popularity, he said they plotted against him by spreading falsehoods about the financial position of the State under his stewardship. He also recalled the political drama enacted by his own Cabinet colleagues to isolate him.

Although the AINRC has emerged as the largest single party with 15 MLAs, it needs the backing of two more members for a simple majority as Rangasamy has to forgo one of the two seats won by him.

Welcoming the outcome of the election, the AIADMK's Puducherry unit secretary, Anbalagan, said, The people's verdict has gone against the corrupt Congress government supported by the DMK. It has failed to implement the welfare schemes announced by it. The administration has come to a halt thanks to the interference of Union Minister V. Narayanasamy.

Recalling party general secretary Jayalalithaa's announcement during her electioneering in Puducherry that Rangasamy was the front's nominee for chief ministership, he said the AINRC would initiate talks with the AIADMK leadership for the formation of a coalition government.

Puducherry has seen 12 elections to the Assembly since 1964. But election 2011 had many firsts to its credit. For the first time, the main contenders vied with one another in promising freebies to woo voters. For the first time in the annals of the Union Territory, a candidate contested from more than one seat.

A total of 187 candidates, including 78 independents, were in the fray and 83.62 per cent of the 8.10 lakh voters exercised their franchise. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Janata Dal (United), the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Lok Jan Shakti Party entered the fray in some constituencies but came out unsuccessful.

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