Puducherry Election 2021: Out of favour in the Congress, is it end of the road for V Narayansamy?

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March 25, 2021 5:59 PM

Narayanasamy has also come up as the least favoured candidate as Chief Minister in the pre-poll survey, scoring 20 per cent against 49.8 per cent for the AINRC candidate N Rangasamy.

Puducherry Elections 2021V Narayansamy claimed that it was he who opted out of the election despite being asked by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to contest.

It was mid-February, but amid the moderate Puducherry weather, the then Chief Minister V Narayansamy was already feeling the heat. The Congress, which had won 15 seats in the 2016 assembly elections, was in the midst of a crisis and staring at losing power in the Union Territory. The ball had begun to roll on January 25 when former then Congress MLA E Theeppainjan and former PWD Minister A Namassivayam resigned from the party. Within a month that followed, a flurry of resignations flooded the ruling party. While then MLA Malladi Krishna Rao had resigned on February 15, four Congress MLAs resigned on February 16 and MLA K Lakshminarayanan resigned on February 21. This included John Kumar, a close confidant of former Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy.

It was a new low for the Congress-DMK alliance which used to command a majority in the Puducherry Assembly. Such was the impact that the resignations even made the DMK helpless. In fact, the DMK too failed to keep its flock together as one of its MLAs K Venkatesan who represented the Thattanchavadi constituency resigned on February 21. With the Congress government staring at a certain defeat once the floor test was called, V Narayanasamy, once a key UPA minister and considered a close confidante of the Gandhi family, was falling out of favour and in the eye of a storm. A majority government that he commanded had slipped under his feet and there was nobody other than the BJP he could shift the blame on.

But holding the BJP responsible for a fallout that cost the Congress its government was cutting little ice with the party leadership as well as those familiar with the political happenings in the Union Territory. Word soon started to get out that several of the ruling party MLAs were unhappy with the functioning of the Chief Minister and the fallout was anyway only a matter of time. In the midst of the jolt that Narayanasamy had been delivered, Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the UT on February 17 gave a fresh twist to the events. Narayanasamy was caught misrepresenting a fisherwoman’s complaint as a compliment to Rahul Gandhi. The video, which went viral, left the Congress party embarrassed.

Narayanasamy later came out with a cover-up strategy and tweeted videos of him visiting cyclone-affected areas but it was a classic case of too little and too late. The damage had been done and the CM’s gaffe in the presence of the former party president made him and Rahul Gandhi laughing stock online. The repercussions reflected in the Congress’ Puducherry candidate list which the party released on March 16. Fearing a backlash and gauging public sentiments, the Congress decided to do the unavoidable – it dropped V Narayanasamy, one of the most prominent faces of Puducherry Congress and a former CM, from its list of candidates for the coming elections.

Addressing media persons on March 21, Narayansamy claimed that it was he who opted out of the election despite being asked by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to contest. He said that he decided to look after the coordination duties as the Congress State president AV Subramanian is contesting polls. The Congress has fielded Subramanian from Karaikal North.

The ground clearly is slipping beneath Narayanasamy’s feet and he has little in terms of political capital or a track record to claim otherwise. Opinion polls so far have shown that there is little support for the Congress-DMK in the elections which the NDA is predicted to sweep. As per the Times Now-CVoter Opinion Poll, the NDA comprising the BJP, the All India NR Congress (AINRC) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDMK), may win 21 of the 30 seats that will go to polls on April 6. The UPA, which comprises the Congress and the DMK, is expected to finish second with 9 seats. The former Chief Minister’s own performance in the elections has been questionable. A staggering 54 per cent of the respondents said they were not at all satisfied with the CM’s performance, while 45 per cent felt the same for the government that he headed. Narayanasamy has also come up as the least favoured candidate as Chief Minister in the pre-poll survey, scoring 20 per cent against 49.8 per cent for the AINRC candidate N Rangasamy.

The developments that unfolded over the past few months could well mark the end of a long political career for 73-year-old Narayansamy unless the Congress chooses otherwise – either to send him to Rajya Sabha or field him in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The third possibility is the Congres returning to power at the Centre and appointing Narayansamy as a governor, which appears to be a very distant possibility. Moreover, Narayanasamy turns 80 in 2028 and with Rahul Gandhi also advocating the entry of young blood in the party by giving more opportunities to the youth, the prospects of leaders like Narayansamy do appear bleak.

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