Congress’ government in Puducherry in alliance with DMK came to an abrupt end even before the completion of its full term, and against the public mandate, after a spate of resignations from its MLAs reduced its government to minority.
Puducherry joins the list of Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh that have fallen to the political machinations of BJP, and other states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Goa where BJP managed to outplay the Congress by converting its minority status to majority by forging alliances and engineering defections to fulfil its aim of achieving a “Congress-Mukt” India. This leaves the Congress with only Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, besides Maharashtra where it is ruling in alliance with the Shiv Sena and the NCP government. Not to mention, even the Maharashtra government reports of its constant tiff with the BJP-appointed governor Koshyari and have regularly asked his recall by the Centre. Although there is no word from the BJP yet on recalling Koshyari from Maharashtra it did prematurely end the term of its loyal “lieutenant” Kiran Bedi as governor of Puducherry. While it appears Koshyari’s job is not over yet in Maharashtra Kiran Bedi has achieved what he didn’t and may no longer have been required in Puducherry until next elections.
In the last one month, and until last week, 6 MLAs resigned from the party reducing Congress to 9, DMK 2 from their majority stake of 17 at the time of forming government. The former Puducherry chief minister, Congress’ V. Narayanasamy, regularly blamed the former Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi of disrupting his administration. He alleged that Kiran Bedi was a tool in the hands of the Modi government and “they were working together so that there was no development”.
The tug of war between the two began as soon as Bedi took over as Puducherry L-G on 29 May 2016. Narayanasamy alleged that Bedi exceeded her brief as L-G and interfered with his government’s working. Even the Madras High Court had in 2019 ruled that Bedi couldn’t interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the government. The battle between the two resembled AAP’s regular conflicts in Delhi with the then lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung or now more so between Maharashtra government and its governor Koshyari. The bone of contention being – governor working as an “agent” of the BJP.
The Prime Minister in his recent visit to Puducherry has however said that the Puducherry government “did not cooperate” with the centre. It is not known if that was the reason behind the fall of the Puducherry government but Narayansamy has maintained “that was their game plan. They achieved it by luring MLAs and leaders from my party.” He said that “the BJP has been bringing in people from Delhi, using their power in the Centre and money power with the plans to topple my government ..They have been planning this for the last four-and-a-half years.”
With Narayansamy’s government reduced to 11 as opposed to Opposition’s 14 he resigned even before the vote of confidence. He opposed the Speaker who was convinced with the Supreme Court’s order investing three nominated MLAs with vote on matters of trust vote and Budget. Three BJP MLAs were nominated in the House because the Congress itself had not been politically smart in nominating three MLAs to the UT in time. The laidback manner of political operations in Congress helped the BJP which is not shy in using the office of governors in throttling the functioning of the governments.
However, this does not acquit BJP of undermining democracy and dishonouring the people’s will by using underhand means to topple governments in a greed for power. The PM had talked about not allowing “the democratic process to be subverted” after US Capitol violence but subverting this process has become a regular feature at home.