Congress government in Puducherry falls after CM resigns ahead of confidence vote

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Puducherry, Feb 22 (PTI) The Congress government in Puducherry fell on Monday after Chief Minister V Narayanasamy resigned ahead of the confidence vote sought by him in the Assembly after his government was reduced to a minority due to a spate of resignations of party MLAs and a DMK legislator over the past few days.

Narayanasamy met Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and submitted the resignation of his cabinet, even as the ruling side's strength was reduced to 11 as against the 14 of the opposition.

The opposition, led by NR Congress chief and Leader of Opposition N Rangasamy said it has no plans to stake claim to form the government as of now and that discussions would be held.

Soundararajan had earlier summoned the one-day special session Monday, mandating that its agenda be confined only to the trust vote, after the opposition petitioned her last week saying the government had been reduced to a minority due to the resignations.

A fresh bout of resignations on Sunday took the tally in the last few days to three and the cumulative since last month to six and further reduced the strength of the Congress-DMK combine in the assembly to 11 after Congress member K Lakshminarayanan and DMK's K Venkatesan quit on Sunday.

Subsequently, the party position in the assembly was: Congress (nine, including Speaker), DMK two, All-India NR Congress seven, AIADMK four, BJP three (all nominated with voting rights) and one independent who has supported the government. There are seven vacancies.

Those who had resigned included former ministers A Namassivayam (now in BJP) and Malladi Krishna Rao.

On Monday, after mounting an attack on the Narendra Modi-led Centre and former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi with whom he had frequent run-ins on administrative matters, Narayanasamy led his colleagues out of the Assembly after a debate over the rights of nominated members to vote during the floor test.

Subsequently, Speaker V P Sivakolundhu announced that the motion for confidence vote moved by the chief minister in the morning was defeated, even as it was not taken up for either voice vote or division.

'Our view that only the elected members can vote in the House was not accepted by the Speaker. So we walked out of the assembly and met the Lt Governor and gave resignation letter of my cabinet,' Narayanasamy later told reporters.

Narayanasamy said he was accompanied by his ministers, Congress and DMK MLAs besides the independent legislator who had earlier supported the government.

It was now up to the Lt Governor to decide on their resignation, he added.

He, however, did not respond to queries on his next course of action.

Earlier, after moving the confidence motion, Narayanasamy made a detailed speech blaming both the NDA government at the Centre and opposition parties including AINRC, AIADMK and BJP as 'being responsible for stalling implementation of welfare schemes proposed by the elected government'.

He lashed out at Bedi, saying she had 'conspired' against the government on matters including revenue generation.

'Those rejected by people cospired to topple our government but we stayed firm due to our resilience,' he said.

He alleged that the NDA 'distinguished itself by toppling governments of the opposition parties as was seen in Arunachal Pradesh...' 'Now they had played their role in toppling the Congress-led alliance government in Puducherry,' he said and charged the Centre with committing 'mayhem of democracy with the support of the opposition parties in Puducherry.' People would teach a lesson to the Centre, he added.

When he kept making critical remarks against Kiran Bedi, AIADMK legislature party leader A Anbalagan intervened anbd sought to know how the 'Chief Minister could speak about a person who was not present in the House' and charged Narayanasamy with speaking like addressing a public meeting.

After the CM spoke, government whip R K R Anandaraman asked if the nominated legislators had the right to vote on motion of confidence.

The opposition AIADMK and BJP rose to state that the Supreme Court had clearly stated in his judgment in December 2018 in an appeal that the 'nominated legislators had the right to vote and there should be no doubt about it.' Subsequently, Narayansamy and other ruling members trooped out of the House and headed to the Raj Nivas to meet Soundararajan where he submitted the resignation letter of his cabinet.PTI COR SA SS PTI PTI PTI