Demand for cabinet posts behind Puducherry BJP revolt. ‘Took advantage of poll loss to rake it up.’

Demand for cabinet posts behind Puducherry BJP revolt. ‘Took advantage of poll loss to rake it up.’

Chennai/New Delhi: A section of the BJP MLAs and Independent MLAs from the Union Territory of Puducherry have knocked the doors of Delhi, urging the BJP high command to seek changes in Puducherry cabinet in the wake of the recent Lok Sabha debacle.

BJP candidate and Puducherry Home Minister A. Namassivayam lost to Puducherry Congress president V Vaithilingam. Namassivayam lost by a margin of about 1.36 lakh votes.

Ever since the poll debacle, there have been fissures inside the BJP over the loss in the election. There were also demands to change Puducherry BJP president Selvaganapathy, who is a Rajya Sabha member.

Blaming the All India N.R. Congress (AINRC)-led coalition government for the poll loss, a delegation led by BJP MLAs A. John Kumar, his son Richard, P.M.L Kalyanasundaram and nominated BJP MLA K. Venkatesh is camping in Delhi where they met Union ministers J.P. Nadda, who is also the BJP chief, and Arjun Ram Meghwal, on Wednesday.

“We met the party leadership and we have raised several issues including non-fulfilment of commitments made in 2021. Funds were not sanctioned, and a majority of MLAs want to withdraw support to the government,” Kalyanasundaram told ThePrint.

“In the present circumstances, we can’t win the next assembly election as we have lost the Lok Sabha election… We have apprised the party leadership about our demand and they have assured that central leaders will visit Puducherry to meet the CM to resolve the crisis.”

Another MLA, who was part of the delegation, told ThePrint that they would not have lost the election had the government met the people’s expectations and fulfilled the electoral promises.

“From civil works to government contracts, there are several works pending in the government. We had assured to reopen the rationshops once coming to power. But, that has not happened until now. These are among the many reasons for the loss in the election,” the MLA said.

However, a BJP insider in Delhi shared that the discontent was not over the electoral loss, but for a cabinet berth that was assured at the time of forming the government. “Our party has assured a cabinet berth to MLAs on a rotation basis. But, ever since forming the government, the cabinet reshuffle has not happened. They took advantage of the election loss to rake it up,” the BJP insider said.

Back in Puducherry, multiple sources in BJP confirmed that the delegation sought the removal of Home Minister A. Namassivayam and Rural Development Minister A.K. Sai J. Saravanan Kumar.

“They wanted to replace Namassivayam with Kalyanaraman. Both come from Vanniyar community. Similarly, they want to remove Saravanan Kumar, who belongs to Scheduled Caste and replace him with A. John Kumar, who is from a minority community,” a senior BJP functionary said.

When asked about it, Kalyanaraman said that they have conveyed the reasons for the loss in the election to the high command. “We wish the party high command responds positively. However, we will accept whatever the party high command orders.”

Saravanan Kumar, meanwhile, said that he would abide by the party high command’s order.

BJP Puducherry in-charge Nirmal Surana told ThePrint that the party would address concerns of the MLAs. “But, there is no threat to the coalition government as suggested by the MLAs.“

Similarly, a senior BJP leader, who oversaw the campaign of the 2021 assembly polls, too, said on similar lines. “We are not going to take the drastic step of leaving the government as per demand of MLAs when grievances can be resolved through meeting and persuasion. Our agenda is to defeat the Congress. We can’t allow the Congress to grab power,“ the BJP leader told ThePrint.

Also Read: DMK is now embracing Murugan. Why no party in Tamil Nadu can escape this Dravidian god 

What discontent is about

Ever since the coalition government was formed in 2021, BJP MLAs Kalyanasundaram, Kumar and his son Richard and three independent MLAs supporting the BJP have been demanding posts in government-aided bodies including chairman posts in the corporations, welfare Boards and committees.

However, the CM was in no mood to allocate the posts to the BJP MLAs. In the past, he had explained that the government-aided boards were facing severe fund crunch and they have been shut one after the other. “Unless they are revived by bringing in money, it is not possible to appoint the chairman for those bodies,” Rangasamy had said a year after assuming office.

He had also clarified that he would consider appointing chairpersons for the boards if the Union Government funds them.

Kalyanasundaram, a former AINRC MLA, joined the BJP just before the 2021 polls. Similarly, Kumar was a Congress MLA, who resigned from his post in February 2021, months before the assembly election.

The underlying dissatisfaction of Kalyanasundaram and Kumar comes to fore every now and then. “Just a year after coming to power, John met the national high command and demanded a cabinet berth. The CM has not been keeping the BJP MLAs in the loop about policy decisions. We never get to know what’s happening in the government,” a BJP MLA said.

While John passively appeals to the party high command, Kalyanasundaram has been vocal about his dissatisfaction over the government. “Despite being part of the ruling coalition, he had protested several times in the assembly to take action against the collector and revenue officials,” the MLA added.

But, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy seems to be unfazed over the crisis. “It has nothing to do with the government. It is an intra-party matter. I have never violated the norms of alliance,” he told the media Thursday.

In Puducherry’s 30-member assembly, the AINRC and the BJP have 10 and 6 MLAs, respectively. As many as 6 Independent candidates were elected, of which 3 each support either of the two parties. The opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has 6 members, while the Congress accounts for the remaining 2 seats.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: How VCK won with big margins in Tamil Nadu LS polls when Dalit parties in other states drew a blank


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