With Puducherry setback, Congress political footprint diminishes further | India News – Times of India
Home Most Viewed With Puducherry setback, Congress political footprint diminishes further | India News – Times of India
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With Puducherry setback, Congress political footprint diminishes further | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday lost its lone government in south India after the V Narayanasamy-led alliance lost the floor test in Puducherry assembly.
With the latest setback, the Congress’s political footprint in India has shrunk even further with the grand old party now in power on its own mettle in just three states: Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Besides these three, the Congress is part of the ruling alliance with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra and JMM in Jharkhand. However, the party is the junior partner in both these states.
Barring a brief respite last week with a decisive victory in the urban local body elections in Punjab, the Congress has been grappling with the challenge of electoral slide for long now.

Following the debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress’s electoral fate has seen little change. The party lost power in Madhya Pradesh last year after its stalwart leader Jyotiraditya Scindia defected to the BJP.

In Delhi, the Congress scored a blank with 67 of the 70 contestants losing their deposits. Whereas in Bihar, it was blamed for pulling down the RJD, as part of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.
Last year, a rebellion in Rajasthan by ex-deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot almost pushed the Ashok Gehlot-led state government to the brink but for the last minute strategizing by the CM who warded off a potential revolt, and saved his government.
Moreover, the party has also been facing internal squabbles ever since several senior leaders wrote a letter to the leadership demanding an organisational overhaul.
The group of 23 leaders including veterans Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma have been warning Congress president Sonia Gandhi against status quo since August last year but to no avail.
The party leadership remains fluid with Sonia mostly keeping unwell and distant and Rahul Gandhi continuing to show reluctance to take up the job of the party chief and lead from the front.
Rumblings within the Congress state unit in Rajasthan continue with Pilot and Gehlot still at odds and often said to be working at cross purposes in a show of one upmanship.
The loss in Puducherry also comes at a crucial time as assembly elections are lined up in five key states in April-May this year.
Beaten and demoralised, the Congress is now pinning hopes of some gains in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala, seeking to expand its base but the goal appears too lofty to achieve.
Even in Kerala this time, the Congress faces a tough road ahead despite the trends of alternate governments there.
The entry of E Sreedharan on BJP side has further queered the Kerala poll pitch.
The Congress is hoping to stage a comeback in Puducherry, where it has traditionally been strong but the numbers don’t stack up in its favour.
A spate of Congress MLA resignations have, however, undermined the party’s morale on the poll eve with Tamil Nadu appearing the sole winning bet, courtesy the DMK.
Congress insiders blame the weakening grip of the high command and the inability of the Gandhis to pull votes behind the ongoing slide of the party.
The BJP’s aggressive push in all the above states coupled with the entry of AIMIM in Bengal will challenge Congress-Left’s prospects in the eastern state, while Assam will remain a tough battlefield in the presence of the incumbent BJP which is banking on multiple development project launches by the PM there.
Unstable political history
Meanwhile, the fall of the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government on Monday marked yet another chapter in the Union Territory’s not so chequered political history.
Elected dispensations in the UT have fallen many a time either because of floor crossings or in fight between the parties constituting coalition governments.
In the present case, Narayanasamy resigned ahead of the confidence vote in the assembly with the coalition ministry reduced to a minority due to a spate of resignations of party MLAs and a DMK legislator recently.
Endemic political instability was almost a rule in Puducherry more than an exception and there were instances of ministries falling like pack of cards during the last nearly five decades.
Only four governments had completed its full term, while six, including the Naryanasamy-led dispensation, had failed to complete its tenure.
The enforcement of the anti-defection law however brought floor crossings to an end in this former French colony although there was a stray case of defection by three members from AIADMK to DMK in the opposition bloc in 1985 who were disqualified.
Puducherry had governments for full term of five years only in 1985 (Congress government under leadership of Farook), 1991 (congress ministry headed by V Vaithilingam, present Lok Sabha member), 2001 (Congress government headed by N Rangasamy, now AINRC leader) and 2011 (AINRC government led by Rangasamy).
The governments that fell without completing the term were the one formed by DMK-CPI coalition (1969), AIADMK (1974 and 1977), DMK-Congress (1980), DMK-Janata Dal (1990) and now Narayanasamy-led Congress-DMK coalition.
The Government of Union Territory Act 1963 has provision for nominating three nominated members to the territorial Assembly having 30 elected members.
But it was only in 1985 was this facility used for the first time by the Congress government headed by M O H Farook after 23 years since the Union Territory was formed in the wake of merger in 1962.
Friction between the chief minister and Lt Governor as was seen during the tenure of Narayanasamy was a rarity in the past.
The tussle between AIADMK chief minister S Ramasamy in 1974 and the then Lt Governor Chhedi Lal was not as intense as it was between Narayanasamy and Kiran Bedi.
(With inputs from PTI)


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