Troubles within

Print edition : April 22, 2011

N. Rangasamy, former Chief Minister of Puducherry. His new party, the All India N.R. Congress, is fighting the election in alliance with the AIADMK. - T. SINGARAVELOU

ELECTORAL battles in the Union Territory of Puducherry have always been unique, mainly because of its four regions adjoining three States: Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. But political turncoats never tire of adding new twists and turns to the electoral script.

This time also, politicians of this former French colony have not disappointed on this count in the run-up to the April 13 election to the 30-member Assembly.

As of now, there are two major fronts in the fray. One consists of the Congress, the DMK, the PMK and the VCK. As per the agreement reached among the partners after protracted talks, the Congress will field candidates in 17 constituencies and the DMK in 10. The PMK gets two seats and the VCK one.

As rebel activities became uncontrollable in the Congress, Pradesh Congress Committee chief A.V. Subramanian appointed an eight-member peace committee to persuade the rebels to withdraw.

In the other electoral front, its leader, the All India N.R. Congress (AINRC), will contest in 17 seats. Of the remaining 13 seats, AIADMK nominees will contest in 11 and the CPI and the DMDK in one each.

The political developments occurred at a fast pace with former Chief Minister N. Rangasamy quitting the Congress and the U.T. Assembly in January and launching his own political outfit, the AINRC, in February.

Close on the heels of his resignation and the formation of the new party, seven MLAs quit the Assembly for different reasons, the most important among them being denial of seats to them by the party leadership.

P. Arunai Angalan, the former Chief Whip, and T. Thiagarajan, nominated member (both Congress), N.G. Panneerselvam, the PMK's nominated member, and P.R. Siva, MDMK MLA, were admitted to the AINRC immediately upon their resignation. They have also been given the AINRC ticket.

Three others N. Anand (Congress), A. Elumalai (independent) and A. Marimuthu (independent) have also quit the Assembly. Of them, Anand filed his nomination as an Independent at Ouplam. Elumalai joined the DMK and got renominated from Ossudu.

As per the seat allocation in the AINRC-AIADMK combine, N. Kalainathan, secretary of the Pondicherry unit of the CPI, faces a formidable challenge from Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam at Kamaraj Nagar. The Nedungadu seat has been allotted to the VCK. Rangasamy will contest from Indira Nagar and Kadirkamam constituencies.

The Left parties received shabby treatment at the hands of the AINRC-AIADMK combine, which allotted only one seat each to the CPI and the CPI(M).

Citing the allocation of the lone seat in the Mahe region, the CPI(M) leaders pointed out that their demand for a seat in the Puducherry region was not met. Protesting against the big brother attitude of the bigger parties in the combine, the Puducherry unit of the CPI(M) fielded its candidates at Thirubuvanai (Reserved), Lawspet and Bahour. Subsequently, it decided to withdraw its nominees from Thirubuvanai and Bahour to ensure the defeat of the Congress-DMK combine. In Lawspet, C.H. Balamohanan, former leader of the Confederation of Government Employees Associations, will stay on in the race as the CPI(M) nominee.

The CPI(M), through its independent campaign, would highlight issues such as price rise, corruption in the administration, unemployment, financial crisis, non-allocation of funds under the special component plan, and implementation of schemes announced in the Budget, V. Perumal, secretary of the party's Puducherry unit, said. The party would also expose the omissions and commissions of the past 10 years during the tenure of Rangasamy and Vaithilingam, he added.

Both the Congress and the AINRC have levelled allegations against each other on the reasons for the impasse in the administration and the non-implementation of various schemes.

Describing himself as a victim of a political conspiracy, Rangasamy said the Congress high command was misled on several issues by a few local leaders when he was at the helm. He expressed the hope that the electorate would give a fitting reply to those who conspired against him.

S. Dorairaj

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