The Congress government in Puducherry will face a test of strength on Monday, Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan said on Thursday, citing the opposition’s stand that the ruling party no longer enjoyed a majority.
Just months before an election, the state government is believed to have lost its thin majority after four recent resignations, though Chief Minister V Narayanasamy denies this. He insists that two of those resignations are yet to be accepted.
Soundararajan, who took charge as Lieutenant Governor yesterday after Kiran Bedi’s sudden removal, said a floor test was needed to ascertain whether the Congress government enjoys a majority. The vote will take place by 5 pm on Monday.
A statement said the Lieutenant Governor had conveyed to Narayanasamy that the assembly would meet for a “single agenda, namely whether the government of the incumbent Chief Minister continues to enjoy the confidence of the House.”
Of the 30 elected MLAs in the assembly, the Congress had 15 members and, along with the DMK’s three and one independent member, was just past the majority mark of 16.
After the resignations, the government and the opposition both are at 14. The Congress has 10 members, leaving the government one short of the majority mark, which has dropped to 15 with the assembly strength coming down to 28.
Elections are due in Puducherry, along with neighbouring Tamil Nadu, by May.
The BJP said Narayanasamy’s government would fall on Monday. “He has lost his majority and his claim of having a majority is false. His government will fall on February 22. All 14 Opposition MLAs are united,” said Puducherry BJP President V Saminathan.
Two of the four Congress MLAs who have quit since last month have joined the BJP. A Namassivayam and E Theeppainjan both resigned on January 25.
Malladi Krishna Rao and John Kumar, who resigned earlier this week, are also believed to be headed to the BJP.
Narayanasamy, however, said their resignations were not final and that he was confident of bringing them around. He accused the BJP of planning an “Operation Kamal (lotus)” in the Union Territory, using the opposition’s term for what they call the BJP’s strategy of engineering defections and toppling governments.
“The BJP is poaching MLAs, threatening them. But I know the BJP well, they are giving false promises to lure MLAs. People are talking about it, this MLA has been purchased, this minister has been purchased,” Narayanasamy said. In the 2016 polls, the BJP contested 18 of 30 seats and lost all. This time, the party is banking on imports from the Congress, especially regional heavyweights who built a strong base for the Congress over the years.