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BJP, AINRC in rift for lone RS seat in Puducherry

Puducherry : The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Puducherry is divided over the allocation of the lone seat to the Rajya Sabha from the Union Territory.

The Election Commission recently announced polls for the vacant Rajya Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry,

The All India NR Congress leader and Chief Minister of Puducherry, N. Rangasamy wants his close aide and former health minister Malladi Krishna Rao as the AINRC candidate to contest the elections, the BJP is trying to field Union Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting and former Tamil Nadu state president of the BJP, L. Murugan for the seat.

Murugan who was sworn in as the Union Minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet on June 7 during the first expansion of the second Modi government is yet to become a member of Parliament. Even though he can be a minister for six months from the date of swearing-in without becoming an MP, the BJP wants to push his candidature from Puducherry.

However, the Chief Minister of Puducherry and leader of the All India NR Congress (AINRC), N. Rangasamy, according to party insiders is not in a mood to relent to the BJP’s overtures. He is pushing for the candidature of his close aide and former Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao on whose efforts, the Congress in Puducherry was split paving the way for an NDA government in the territory.

It may be noted that there were several fissures within the NDA of Puducherry after the coalition won the elections. After the swearing-in on May 7, Rangasamy was the lone member of the cabinet till June 27. While the Chief Minister contracted Covid -19 immediately after the swearing-in and was under treatment at Chennai, there were reports of the BJP trying to seize power through the back door.

The BJP nominated three of its leaders as legislators under the Central government quota while the CM was under treatment leading to the BJP floor strength to 9 and garnered the support of an independent MLA taking the strength to 10 which was equivalent to the strength of AINRC. DMK leader and minister in the TN government S. Duraimurugan had called upon the BJP to refrain from backdoor manipulations to seize power in Puducherry.

However, mediations at the highest level led to the Chief Minister continuing in office and the BJP had to be content with two ministers and a Speaker post in the House. Political observers are of the opinion that the rift that had developed between the AINRC and the BJP can further deepen during the run-up to the RS election nominations.

Mohammed Ashis of the Mahe Study Group, a Think Tank based out of Mahe in Puducherry , “The BJP and AINRC has started fighting it out but the last laugh will be for N. Rangasamy and BJP cannot be able to overrun his decision. It is only because of N. Rangasamy and his political acumen that the BJP could reach the position where it is in Puducherry and the central leadership of the BJP knows that clearly. So they will not try to play against Rangasamy, at least in the near future.”

The election is scheduled for October 4 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The counting takes place on the same date after 5 p.m.

The nominations to the vacant seats would commence from September 15 and the last date for filing the papers is September 22. The scrutiny will take place on September 23 and the last date for withdrawal of the nomination papers is on September 27.

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