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          Puducherry crisis escalates ahead of floor test

          Two more MLAs quit in Puducherry; govt's strength drops to 11

          The resignation by Congress MLA K Lakshminarayanan and DMK legislator Venkatesan further reduced the strength of the ruling alliance to 11

          Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy. Credit: PTI File Photo

          On the eve of the trust vote, the Congress government in Puducherry plunged into further crisis with two legislators resigning as MLAs reducing the strength of the ruling party in the Assembly to 12, including the Speaker.

          Congress MLA from Raj Bhavan constituency K Lakshminarayanan and DMK legislator from Thattanchavady K Venkatesan submitted their resignation letters to Assembly Speaker V P Sivakolundhu on Sunday. The Puducherry Assembly will convene for a day-long session on Monday to facilitate Chief Minister V Narayanasamy to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

          The Puducherry Assembly has 30 elected and three nominated members. With the new resignations and counting an MLA who was disqualified a few months ago, the strength of the Assembly has come down to 26, including three nominated members who belong to the BJP. The term of the Assembly ends in June this year.

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          As things stood on Sunday evening, the Congress has the support of 12 MLAs, including the Speaker, while the Opposition side consisted of 14 members, including those nominated to the House. Though odds are stacked against its government, Congress is pinning hopes on the Speaker?to decide whether the nominated members can participate in the voting to save the government.

          An indication to this effect was given by Narayanasamy during an interview with DH. “The Opposition combine has only 11 elected MLAs. The remaining three are not elected MLAs, but nominated. The Hon'ble Supreme Court did give a verdict on the validity of their nomination. But there is a question mark (whether they can vote). The ruling of the SC can be interpreted in either way. So, the Hon'ble Speaker of the Puducherry Assembly will take a call on this,” he said.

          If the Speaker allows the nominated MLAs to participate in the motion and they vote against Narayanasamy, the government is certain to fall. The issue of nominated MLAs has been a controversial topic in Puducherry with the then Speaker V Vaithilingam refusing permission for them to enter the Assembly premises.

          Narayanasamy has been battling rebellion from within for the past few months with five legislators from Congress resigning since last month. A Namassivayam, Malladi Krishna Rao, E Theepainathan, A Johnkumar, and K Lakshminarayanan resigned expressing displeasure at Narayanasamy's style of functioning.

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