NEW DELHI: In fast political developments taking place in the Union territory of Puducherry, the fate of the V Narayanasamy government hangs in the balance.
The current scenario has emerged after four Congress MLAs resigned from the assembly since January till now. Health and family welfare minister Malladi Krishna Rao quit his ministerial post on January 13 and resigned as an MLA on February 15.
Public works development (PWD) minister A Namassivayam and Congress MLA E Theeppainthan quit on January 25 before joining the BJP.
The fourth Congress MLA to resign from assembly was A John Kumar, who put in his papers on February 16, thus precipitating the political crisis. Congress MLA N Danavelu was disqualified in July last year for indulging in anti-party activities.
The strength of the Congress, including the speaker, has been reduced to 10. It had won 15 of the 30 elected seats in the 2016 assembly elections. With the support of three DMK MLAs and one independent MLA, Narayanasamy has the support of 14 legislators.
On the other hand, the opposition also claims to have the support of 14 MLAs – seven of the N Rangasamy-led All India NR Congress (AINRC), four of the AIADMK and three nominated legislators of the BJP.
The effective strength of the Puducherry assembly has reduced to 28 and the simple majority mark to 15.
This week has been politically tumultuous for Puducherry. While John Kumar resigned as a Congress MLA on February 16, lieutenant governor (LG) Kiran Bedi was relieved by President Ram Nath Kovind the same evening. Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararjan was given additional charge of Puducherry.
On February 17, the opposition MLAs reached the LG’s office. Led by leader of opposition in the assembly and AINRC chief Rangasamy, they submitted a plea seeking a direction to Narayanasamy to prove his government’s majority on the floor of the house.
These developments took place when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrived in Puducherry on a two-day visit to launch the assembly election campaign.
Soundararjan, on February 18, ordered a floor test for the Congress government on February 22. The Congress MLAs met the same evening to chalk out a strategy for the floor test. The discussion remained inconclusive. They will meet again on February 21, a day ahead of the trial of strength in the territorial assembly.
These are the five possible scenarios:
1. Narayanasamy wins trust vote
Narayanasamy has claimed that the opposition does not have the adequate numbers. He said the three nominated BJP MLAs do not have the power to vote in a floor test. “We believe that the nominated MLAs don’t have the power to vote in a floor test. We are discussing with legal experts,” CM Narayanasamy said.
He quoted the chief election commissioner and said: “They (nominated MLAs) have voting rights but nothing on voting rights during a floor test.”
Following this principle, speaker VP Sivakolundhu may prohibit the three nominated BJP MLAs from voting on February 22. In such a scenario, the opposition will have 11 votes against 14 of the ruling Congress-DMK alliance.
2. Resignation of one MLA may not have been accepted
Sources said of the four Congress MLAs who quit the assembly since January, the speaker has not accepted the resignation of Malladi Krishna Rao. He is being persuaded to withdraw his resignation and also vote in favour of the government, the sources added.
In this case, the ruling Congress will win by 15:14 of the opposition.
3. Narayanasamy loses
In case, the speaker fails to bar the three nominated BJP MLAs from voting or Narayanasamy does not succeed in convincing Malladi Rao to withdraw his resignation, his government would fall in the trust vote. However, even before that happens, Narayanasamy may resign and recommend dissolution of the house.
4. AINRC-AIADMK-BJP coalition form government
In case Narayanasamy loses the trust vote, the AINRC-AIADMK-BJP combine may stake claim to form government. However, this is a remote possibility because elections are expected to take place in May.
If they form government, they may lose the sympathy of the voters and this may cost them dear in the elections. Hence, they may also refuse to stake claim to form government.
5. President’s Rule
If Narayanasamy loses the trust vote and the opposition refuses to stake claim to form government, the LG may recommend President’s Rule. Even if the CM recommends dissolution of the assembly, the LG may choose to ignore it because the recommendation would come from a minority government. Therefore, the elections in Puducherry may be held under President’s Rule.