Flashback 2015: Puducherry saw hectic political activities, floods

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Puducherry, Dec 26: High drama prior to election for the lone Rajya Sabha seat, heavy floods and devastation, and students' protest against Pondicherry University VC kept Puducherry in the news in 2015.

The most significant political development took place during the Rajya Sabha member election. Amid speculation on which party would field candidates for the poll held in September, the ruling AINRC extended support to the AIADMK and ensured the success of its nominee N Gokulakrishnan.

Puducherry

This development also marked a revival of the alliance between AINRC and AIADMK. Gokulakrishnan was elected unopposed as the sudden decision of AINRC to support him queered the pitch of other parties who were expected to jump into the fray.

Just hours before the deadline of filing papers, Gokulakrishnan, a close friend of Rangasamy, was enrolled as a member of the AIADMK.

This development seemed to have saved the Rangasamy government from a near crisis. Five legislators of his party were virtually rising in revolt against him for several days before the poll on the ground that he was maintaining silence without naming the party's nominee.

But Gokulakrishnan wresting the seat from Congress apparently saved the crisis that N Rangasamy headed ministry was about to face. Among other headlines was students of Pondicherry University rising in revolt against Vice Chancellor Chandra Krishnamoorthy.

The continued agitation by the students seeking her removal from office lasted several days in July prompting the Union HRD Ministry to depute a three-member team to study the situation.

The students were, however, relentless alleging that Krishnamoorthy committed administrative chaos and there were instances of alleged violations of human rights as well.

Ultimately the HRD Ministry issued directives to Krishnamoorthy in September to go on leave and she was kept under compulsory wait. The Ministry also appointed an acting Vice Chancellor from among the faculty in the institution.

Puducherry bore the brunt of fury of northeast monsoon in November and December. Havoc caused by the floods in Puducherry and Karaikal regions was immense. Rangasamy rushed two reports successively to the Centre seeking around Rs 400 crore as central relief.

More than 8000 hectares of farm lands were submerged and farmers were hard hit with the loss of standing crops. The government received in the first instance Rs 50 crore from the Centre to manage the situation.

Puducherry government from its own funds disbursed Rs 4000 to each of families covered under public distribution system without exception. This cost the government Rs 114 crore.

Rahul Gandhi visited the rain hit villages on December 8 and distributed relief materials provided by the Opposition Congress here.

Puducherry also witnessed incidents of minor girls facing sexual harassment quite often during the year with a teacher in a government-run educational institution and also the head of the management of a private school here among the accused.

The Child Welfare Committee was approached by the victims and the accused were arrested under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 and also under Indian Penal Code.

Political developments in neighbouring Tamil Nadu also have their echo in Puducherry. A People's Welfare Front was formed here by five political parties - CPI, CPI (Marxist), MDMK, VCK and Revolutionary Socialist party.

The front had also come out with a Common Minimum Programme relating to several subjects. Major government-owned industrial undertakings like AFT mill continued to be non functional in 2015 with the Centre not coming out with any package of relief sought by Puducherry government.

Puducherry continues to have only an acting Lt Governor since July 17, 2014.

PTI

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