LONG before politicians started positioning themselves “closer” to voters through dramatic gestures such as travelling by bike, drinking tea at a local tea shop or sitting around in a small businessman’s outlet, N. Rangasamy, former Chief Minister of Puducherry, was doing these things as a matter of routine. He rode his Yamaha 100cc bike to and from work even when he was Chief Minister (twice), stopped by at a local shop for a cup of tea and a snack almost every day when he was in town, and sat around his friend’s watch repair shop talking to customers who came there. Rangasamy moved on from the Congress because of what he perceived as a slight to Puducherry at the hands of the party. A Congressman at heart, Rangasamy said that he was more than willing to walk the talk to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Union Territory. He spoke to Frontline on the recent events in Puducherry.
What do you think about the toppling of the Congress government in Puducherry?
They [the Congress] could not prevent their MLAs from quitting. Why is this happening? Will the MLAs quit if they are happy with the party and the government? Why are they blaming others? Did MLAs from our party quit? This problem is wholly a creation of the Congress. Ministers and MLAs were already leaving the party.
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It began right from the time the Congress government was formed. Now they are seeking to blame everyone else but themselves….We sought a trust vote when we knew that they [the government] did not have a majority. That is our duty to do so. We went along with our allies [the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bharatiya Janata Party] to meet the L-G [Lieutenant Governor]. At that time itself, we had a total of 14 MLAs. The government should have quit at that time. They did not. They waited for a floor test.
Has the dismissal created sympathy for
V. Narayansamy, the toppled Chief Minister?
There is no sympathy. They [Congress] have not done anything for the people of Puducherry. For more than four and half years, the Chief Minister kept blaming the L-G for all the problems of Puducherry. They claimed that she [Kiran Bedi] was standing in the way of all development work in Puducherry. What would they have achieved even if they had the additional 10 days or so [before the announcement of the election]? In my view, nothing.
Does the act of toppling a government a month ahead of elections affect your chances?
Our chances are bright. We had nothing to do with what happened to the Congress. Remember, it was the members of the Congress who wanted to move ahead of the election. People here look at the record of what we did before they vote.
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Did you expect to be asked to form the government for the remainder of term of the current Assembly ?
All that was up to the L-G. If she had asked, we would have discussed and decided what to do.
Do you think something similar could happen to any government in the future?
If the MLAs are with the government, nothing of this sort can happen. Besides, the government needs to work for the people and establish a relationship with the people. They should identify with the government. Then, there will be no problem.
Do you feel the Central government is watching the developments in Puducherry?
It is not like earlier times. The [Central] government is watching everything and is taking note of everything.