Puducherry’s new CM V Narayanasamy has a tough road ahead
Son of a toddy tapper of Thavalakkuppam, a small village in the union territory, Narayanasamy’s strength is in playing a Machiavellian role in the churns in Puducherry politics.
V Narayanasamy is the tenth chief minister of Puducherry where only four have completed their full tenure. The choice of V Narayanasamy, who has never won an assembly election, is a controversial one as he worked for the removal of ex-chief minister N Rangasamy.
Rangasamy, in 2008, floated the All India N Rangasamy Congress (AINRC) after he quit the Congress following a revolt by colleagues.
DELHI-LIKE FIGHT IN PUDUCHERRY?
Yet, the Congress, instead of choosing one of the newly elected MLAs preferred Naryanasamy, perhaps a deft move once they realized that the NDA chose Kiran Bedi to be Lt. Governor.
He is the second person to become chief minister without having contested the assembly elections, and is now expected to contest from the Raj Bhavan assembly constituency.
WHO IS NARAYANASAMY?
However, he brings experience to the table as minister of state first in the Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Public Affairs during UPA – 1 and the in charge of Parliamentary Affairs in the second Manmohan Singh ministry.
The son of a toddy tapper of Thavalakkuppam, a small village in the union territory, Narayanasamy trained to be a lawyer and practiced for about a decade since 1973 before he took to politics in the 1980s.
Narayanasamy’s strength is in playing a Machiavellian role in the churns in Puducherry politics. So, a Bedi-Narayanasamy spat like that in Delhi is not far off.
There is a clamour for statehood in Puducherry and the new CM will stoke this in order to consolidate his position. For the NDA and BJP, what Bedi does can possibly be a model for what it could do later to emerge stronger in contiguous Tamil Nadu.
There are numerous challenges that Naryanasamy faces in trying to improve governance after the whimsical Rangasamy rule.
The Congress-DMK combine has a two seat majority with the support of both DMK legislators in a 30 member house. But there is no certainty about completing a full five year term given the unedifying record of political instability with 18 governments in the past 53 years.
THE FALL OF RANGASAMY
The Congress-DMK combine assumed office riding anti-incumbency while losing for the second time in a row in Tamil Nadu.
Anti-incumbency hit the AINRC and Rangasamy, known as Makkal Mudhalvar (Chief Minister of the Masses), hard. He neglected the industries, forcing wind power major, Suzlon Energy, to shut shop in 2013.
Another factor is the decline in law and order in a once tranquil union territory.
He was also involved in an ugly spat with former Lt. Governor Virendra Kataria which ended only when the BJP led government sacked Kataria in July 2014.
There was also lopsided development with only areas represented by AINRC getting preferential treatment.
Compounding it was his quirk that forced AINRC activists to quit the party as Rangasamy chose to delay announcing the list of contestants until after he went into trance like state in consultation with his late guru Appa Paithiyam Swami.
Congress ruled this former French colony from 2000 to 2011 when it was ousted by Rangasamy’s AINRC. It is conscious of the fact that he cannot be dismissed as a pushover and that the AINRC can be a challenge in future.
Besides this, Puducherry will also have more women MLAs than at any time in its legislative history. As many as four, while there was none for the past 15 years and only seven were elected earlier since 1963.