AIADMK in Puducherry refuses to sign alliance agreement with NR-Congress and BJP after it is given four seats, BJP says the two parties will decide the number

Published : March 11, 2021 14:55 IST

Nirmal Kumar Surana, BJP in-charge for Puducherry, speaking at the inauguration of the election office in the party’s headoffice in Puducherry, on March 10. Also present are (from left) former Minister A. Namassivayam, the party’s national spokesperson and MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the party’s Puducherry unit president V. Swaminathan. Photo: KUMAR S.S.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party’s Puducherry unit is resisting attempts to relegate it to the status of a minor partner in Puducherry for the first time since the party was founded by former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. The party was aghast when it learnt that it had been allotted a mere four seats to contest as part of the NR-Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party-AIADMK front.

Fuelling the speculation was BJP Puducherry in charge, Nirmalkumar Surana’s statement as he opened a new party election office in Puducherry on March 10. He said that of the 30 seats, one party will contest in a symbol in 16 seats, another party will contest in a different symbol in 10 seats, and a third party will contest in its symbol in four seats.

This came at the back of the AIADMK local leadership’s refusal to sign the alliance agreement when the NR-Congress and the BJP inked it. Although the AIADMK leadership was present at the meeting, the leaders did not pose for pictures with leaders of the NR-Congress and the BJP. AIADMK leaders did not want to speak on record and instead said that the AIADMK high command in Chennai would decide on the issue.

Asked if it was a fact that the AIADMK was granted only four seats, Nirmalkumar Surana told Frontline over the phone: “They have got four elected members…. Agreement is between NR [NR-Congress], AIADMK and us. NR [Congress] will contest 16. The BJP and the AIADMK will decide in this [remaining] 14 [seats].”

The AIADMK had demanded eight seats, one source said. At no time since its formation has the AIADMK contested so few seats. There are 30 Assembly seats in Puducherry and three nominated members.

It was after prolonged negotiations that it was decided that the NR-Congress would contest 16 seats, while the BJP kept 14 for itself and the AIADMK. The BJP was seen as the party making all the decisions, though, on paper, the NR-Congress chief N. Rangasamy is leading the alliance.

In the 2016 election, the AIADMK contested all 30 seats and refused to enter into an alliance. It won four, one less than it did in 2011 (when it contested a mere 10 seats, and was part of the ruling combine). The NR-Congress contested the bulk of the seats (17) in 2016. The least number of seats that the AIADMK has ever contested in Puducherry is 10, which it did four times, as part of one alliance or another.

In 2016, the BJP contested all the seats and lost in all for a vote share of 2.4 per cent as against the AIADMK’s 16.8 per cent. Independent candidates polled nearly eight per cent of the votes.

After the 2016 election, the Central government nominated three MLAs to the Assembly. Two of these persons were office bearers of the local unit of the BJP, and one, an educationist, was a BJP sympathiser. These MLAs can also vote. The presence of these MLAs ensured that the Congress government could not complete its current term in office.

The local unit of BJP announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will campaign in Puducherry by the end of the month. He would introduce candidates, the party announced. Modi was in Puducherry in February for a series of inaugurations. Union Home Minister Amit Shah was in Karaikkal, for an election campaign on February 28.