Puducherry [India], April 4 (ANI): Campaigning for assembly polls in Puducherry ended on Sunday with all the players including the NDA and Congress-DMK alliances putting in their best efforts to woo voters in 30 assembly seats for the polls on April 6.
The Union Territory is witnessing a tough battle essentially between these two alliances. The National Democratic Alliance in the Puducherry is a rare case where the BJP is not the largest constituent of the alliance. The BJP is contesting on nine seats with the alliance led by the All India NR Congress contesting on 16 seats, and the AIADMK on five seats.
The Congress, whose government in the Union Territory fell in February before completing its five-year term under the Chief Minister V Narayansamy, has also ceded its ground to its allies in Puducherry, giving 13 seats to the DMK and one each to the Communist Party of India and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. The party skipped fielding former Chief Minister Narayanasamy and is contesting on only 14 out of its 15 seats.
Congress has not fielded any candidate from Yanam constituency, the second seat from where AINRC chief N Rangasamy is contesting. To Narayanasamy, the party has given the responsibility of campaign and election management.
It is pertinent to note that even in 2016, Narayanasamy was not the choice of MLAs since he had not contested the Assembly elections. He had become the Chief Minister without contesting the polls and entered the Assembly by winning a by-election subsequently.
Among the key candidates of Congress, P Selvanadane will contest from Kardirgamam assembly seat, M Kannan from Indira Nagar, Karthikeyan from Oussudu and Ramesh Preambath from Mahe.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam party is also contesting from some seats in Puducherry.
During campaigning, while Rahul Gandhi held the reins of Congress in the UT, BJP’s camp witness high-profile rallies from an array of leader from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah to party president JP Nadda. Kamal Haasan too campaigned for his party in the UT.
With the campaigning coming to end, both NDA and Congress expressed confidence they would form the government in Puducherry.
BJP, with firm confidence in the NR Congress, expects to win 25 out of 30 seats.
“PM visited here twice. Amit Shah also visited and today Nadda Ji is concluding our campaigning. Our NDA alliance is in a good position here. We have support from all sectors including youth and women. We are definitely going to win 25 seats with a clear majority,” V Swaminathan, BJP Puducherry president and candidate from Lawspet constituency told ANI.
“NR Congress is important for our alliance. It is contesting 16 seats and will definitely win 14 seats,” he added.
Goutham Kumar, BJP election in-charge and former BBMP Mayor also sang a similar tune and said, “We are sure that we will win the election with all the efforts of the Karyakartas of NDA alliance. There are open drains in Puducherry, no good roads, no infrastructure. People are expecting a change with belief in BJP. With trust in us, people have given us word that they will bring NDA in Puducherry. With NR Congress and AIADMK, we will win the election. We are confident that we will cross the mark of 17 seats and will 24-25 seats to form the government here.”BJP during its campaigning had projected the erstwhile Congress government as incapable and pushed on the development agenda. It promised ‘special Union territory’ status to Puducherry and to increase devolution of funds from 25 per cent to 40 per cent as done in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure development.
It also promised to revise cost-sharing of projects under centrally sponsored schemes in the ratio of 70 percent by the central government and 30 percent by the UT government in place of the current 30:70 formula.
Congress on other hand, in its manifesto, promised statehood to Puducherry, waiving off all loans of the Puducherry government obtained from the Centre and the inclusion of the union territory in the Central Finance Commission. It also promised to bear the cost of COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the union territory along with free education from primary to research level to the students of SC, ST, OBC, fishermen and girls in a phased manner.
The party has also promised higher secondary and college students 60 GB of internet data free of cost. The manifesto also says the party will give laptops to the students of Class 10 class, 12 and college students and also promises a law university in Puducherry.
Congress has also expressed confidence in its alliance and expects to cross the magic number to form the government in the UT.
V Vaithilingam, MP (LS) and former Chief Minister of Puducherry (INC) while talking to ANI said,. “These elections are different than the past, where the focus was on development. This time the contest is between the power of people and the power of money. One side has the power of money and muscle and the other side has people’s power.””We are ready to form the government. We are expecting to cross the magic numbers,” he added.
Congress leader Sanjay Dutt, who is camping in Puducherry to oversee campaigning of the party said, “This election is important as the BJP government at the Centre has employed obstructionist tactics by using the position of the LG to block the development of Puducherry in the last five years. In the last two months, BJP, AIADMK, and NR Congress colluded to bring the government down.”He accused the BJP government in the Centre of obstructing the development of Puducherry and said, “Our former Chief Minister and his team have been fighting for rights to people here, but BJP never supported that. PM not once visited the UT before polls. BJP-led NDA is a threat to Puducherry’s unique identity. The nation witnessed how they have tried to totally sideline the JK legislation, disempowering it. They have a similar plan for Puducherry.”He also accused the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah of being seen in Puducherry only during elections.
“The PM and HM are only seen during the election. People of Puducherry are literate and they will not let BJP enter here. People will once again give us an opportunity to serve them. Secular alliance of DMK and Congress will serve them,” he added.
Hassan’s MNM, however, promised that it will ensure that all the basic needs of the people are met if it is elected to power.
Meanwhile, Kiran Bedi, who was at loggerheads with Narayanasamy over several issues, was removed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and was replaced by Andhra Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan who was directed to discharge functions of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry.
In the 2016 assembly polls, Congress had won 15 seats, All India NR Congress eight seats, AIADMK got four seats, DMK walked away with two MLAs. BJP could not win any seats.
Polling for 30 assembly seats in Puducherry will be held on April 6. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
Of the 30 assembly seats, five are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates. As many as 10,02,589 electors will choose the candidates for the 15 legislative Assembly of Puducherry. (ANI)