Litmus test awaits Congress in Puducherry polls
Puducherry, Feb 26: The Congress which lost its government here at the fag end of its term will be keen to prove a point by winning the assembly elections scheduled for April 6 but would face a stiff challenge from the opposition bloc which includes the BJP.
The 30 assembly constituencies spread across the union territory's four regions -- Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam -- would go for polls in single phase with 10,02,414 voters eligible to cast their ballots.
The total number of polling booths has been increased to 1,559 from 952 with a cap of 1,000 voters each to ensure safe election in view of the COVID-19 situation, Chief Electoral officer Shurbir Singh told reporters here, soon after the election scheduled was announced by the Election Commission.
The model code of conduct came into force on Friday, he said, adding the electorate in Puducherry comprised 5,30,438 women, 4,71,863 men and 113 third gender. The UT will go to polls under President's Rule, imposed after the V Narayanasamy government fell on February 22 after being reduced to a minority following a spate of resignations of MLAs of the Congress and its ally DMK in the last two months.
Political observers see the polls as a litmus test for the performance of the Congress government in the last nearly five years during which it enjoyed outside support of the DMK and lone independent MLA after contesting the polls as part of the "Secular Democratic Alliance" that also comprised the VCK and Left parties.
Former chief minister V Narayanasamy was locked in a power tussle with then Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, eased out of the post earlier this month, for most part of his term and had accused her of impeding implementation of his government's decisions, including welfare schemes.
The principal opposition All India NR Congress led by former chief minister N Rangasamy is in alliance with the AIADMK and the BJP and the combine is eyeing to capture power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have already visited the union territory and launched their respective parties' campaign since last week.
The seat sharing exercise in the AINRC-led alliance would be finalised soon, according to indications available from the party, floated by Rangasamy in 2011 after he quit the Congress. On the other hand, alliance talks between the Congress, DMK and other partners of the combine is yet to begin.
Senior DMK leader and former union minister S Jagathrakshakan has recently dropped hints that the party was keen to contest all 30 seats in the UT. This would be the second time the assembly polls would be held under Central rule in Puducherry in the last three decades.
In 1991, President's rule was imposed after the then DMK-Janata dal government fell following rift in the alliance. With the polls to be held on April 6, the political parties would have to race against time to finalise the alliances and respective candidates.