Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy stepped down from the post after the Congress government lost the trust vote in the assembly on Monday (February 22).
The government was left shaky after two more MLAs — one each from the Congress and its ally the DMK — quit on Sunday ahead of the trust vote.
As a result of the resignations, the ruling alliance was left with only 12 MLAs in the 33-member (30 elected and three nominated) house. The effective strength of the assembly was reduced to 26 after six MLAs resigned and one from the Congress was disqualified. At the time of the trust vote, the Congress had nine MLAs, its ally DMK had two, and the government had the support of one Independent; the opposition All India NR Congress and its allies had 14 embers (seven from AINR Congress, four AIADMK and three nominated MLAs of BJP from the Centre).
The government was at loggerheads with the former lieutenant governor of the Union Territory Kiran Bedi after she nominated three members of the BJP to the assembly. The government had gone to court saying the nominations were done with consultations with it, but the Supreme Court held that the governor does not have to hold such consultations to nominate members.
While moving the trust motion, Narayanasamy accused Bedi of conspiring with the opposition against the government. ”The government was brought down by a conspiracy of those who were rejected by the voters,” he said. He said Bedi had obstructed the government from functioning properly and denied Puducherry the benefits that were offered by the Centre.
Quickly after ending his speech, V Narayanasamy and his MLAs walked out of the Assembly while the Opposition MLAs sat inside. This forced the Speaker to announce that the government has lost its majority.
Earlier, the government whip asked if the nominated MLAs have voting rights. To this, the Opposition argued that they do. As the discussion was on, Narayanasamy exited the Assembly.
Before the trust vote, there was speculation that the Congress would approach the speaker to demand that the three nominated members not be allowed to vote. The party, however, dropped the plan because the Supreme Court’s ruling that said nominated members also have the right to vote.
The government was left tottering after four Congress MLAs resigned in January and joined the BJP.
The Union Territory will most likely be placed under President’s rule till assembly elections that are due in a couple of months. There is also the possibility of the acting lieutenant governor asking the opposition led by the NR Congress to form a government.
The Opposition has so far not claimed its right to form a government. Even if it does, it will need 15 MLAs for quorum. It, however, has only 14 MLAs. Indications are that all the MLAs of the Puducherry Assembly will tender their resignation, which will result in President’s rule.