In a huge development amid the political crisis in Puducherry, Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan had sent a pack of shockwaves to Chief Minister Narayanasamy, ordering the latter to conduct the floor test in the assembly of the semi-state on February 22 to prove his majority to run the government.
The development has come on the first day of Tamilisai Soundararajan's tenure as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, replacing Kiran Bedi, who was removed from the office on Tuesday based on the Presidential order. Tamilisai Soundararajan, who has been serving as the Governor of Telangana, has been given the additional role of replacing Bedi as the Lieutenant Governor of the former French Colony.
Tamilisai Soundararajan had arrived in Puducherry on Wednesday and she was greeted and felicitated by Chief Minister Narayansamy and Opposition Leader Rangasamy on separate occasions. On Thursday, Tamilisai Soundararajan sworn-in as the 25th Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry at around 9 am and Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee had administered the oath of office at the ceremony held in Raj Nivas.
She took the oath of office in Tamil and for the first time in the history of Puducherry, a Tamil-speaking Governor has been appointed to the territory. On the morning hours of Thursday, she took oath as the Lt. Governor of Puducherry in the presence of the Chief Minister, and Narayanasamy had greeted and welcomed her to the new role. Tamilisai's appointment has come at a high time when the state has been going through an unprecedented political crisis ahead of the assembly polls.
Recently, four MLAs of the ruling Congress party had resigned from the party at regular intervals and while two had officially joined BJP, the other two are on the verge of shaking hands with the rival. As four MLAs had resigned, the opposition -made up of NR Congress- ADMK- BJP had said that the Chief Minister had lost his majority numbers in the assembly and a floor test must be called out. However, Narayasamy had asserted that the government is strong and didn't lose the majority.
When Narayanasamy hoped to build a friendly relationship with the new Lt. Governor, Tamilisai sent a huge shockwave to the Chief Minister on the first day of her office after directing him to conduct the floor test to prove his majority. On Thursday evening, Tamilisai had passed the order to conduct the trust vote in the special session of the assembly on February 22. According to reports, the direction from Tamilisai has come after Opposition Leader Rangasamy met her on Thursday.
According to the press release issued by the Lt. Governor, Rangasamy had apprised the Lt. Governor of the situation in the state after the resignation of four MLAs and the disqualification of one Congress MLA. The release stated, "They (delegation of Rangasamy) said to the Lt. Governor that the present government has been reduced to a minority and lost its legitimacy to continue. The delegation made a request that the present government needs to prove the majority in the floor of the assembly".
The reports say that the entire proceedings of the floor test will be videographed and it shall conclude by 5 pm on February 22. In the 30-member house, the current status of the assembly is that the ruling alliance (Congress-DMK-Independent) and the opposition (NR Congress -ADMK-BJP) have 14 MLAs each. Of the 14 MLAs in the ruling alliance, ten belong to Congress, three from DMK, and the rest one is independent.
The Congress had 15 MLAs and Narayanasamy has been running the government with support from the allied parties. Of these 15 Congress MLAs, C Thangavel was disqualified from the assembly due to anti-party activities. While the number shrunk to 14, four Congress MLAs had recently resigned from the post and put the Congress under deep trouble with only ten direct support. Senior Congress MLA Namassivayam was the first to cause the drift after he quitted from the Congress and joined BJP.
Following Namassivayam, key Congress MLA Theeppainthan had submitted his resignation to the House Speaker on January 25. Earlier this week, days ahead of Rahul Gandhi's visit, two more MLAs- Malladi Krishna Rao and John Kumar had quitted Congress which had pushed the Congress to drop to ten in the assembly, and though Narayasamy is hopeful with the allied parties, he is short of one member to prove his majority. The opposition has been urging the Lt. Governor to direct the Chief Minister to table the trust vote.
As Tamilisai Soundararajan had taken oath as the new L. Governor, she had ordered Narayanasamy to conduct the floor test to prove his majority and continues to enjoy the confidence of the house. Following the order from the Lt. Governor to prove the majority, Narayanasamy had convened an urgent meeting at his residence and discussed with the ministers and Congress MLAs on how to address the trust vote.
The result and fate of Narayanasamy's government will be known on February 22, based on the trust vote, ahead of the elections. The major development has come when the Congress party has been levied with the challenge of addressing the intra-party furor and revolt that would favor the opposition during the elections. The party has already lost some of the MLAs and if the Congress government fails to prove the majority, Narayanasamy's rule will be toppled from the state which would mark no Congress rule in South India.