(Eds: Recasts, adds fresh inputs, reax) Puducherry, Jan 25 (PTI) In a setback to ruling Congress in Puducherry months ahead of assembly elections, PWD minister A.Namassivayam on Monday quit the V Narayanasamy cabinet and resigned from the party, mounting a scathing attack on the Chief Minister, accusing him of suppressing senior leaders.
In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he also claimed people of the union territory suffered because of the 'deliberate' confrontationist approach of Narayanasamy against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the union government and Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.
Namasivayam, who had been distancing himself from meetings of Congress of late amid speculations that he might join the BJP, also quit from the assembly even as the state leadership suspended him on charges of anti-party activity.
In a twin blow, Namasivayam, credited with steering the party to victory in the 2016 elections, and another Congress MLA E Theeppainthan resigned their assembly membership, bringing down the strength of the party to 12 in the 30-member House.
The Congress has been enjoying the outside support of three members of its ally DMK in the assembly, which is set to go for polls likely in April or May.
The two leaders submitted their resignations to Speaker V P Sivakolundhu who accepted them, assembly sources said.
Earlier, Puducherry Congress Committee president A V Subramanian announced at a press meet that Namassivayam was suspended from the primary membership for 'anti-party activities'.
Opposition AIADMK Legislature Wing leader A Anbalagan demanded the resignation of Narayanasamy, saying the ministry was virtually 'unstable' following the resignation of the two as MLAs.
The party-wise break-up in the assembly after the resignation of two is Congress (12 including Speaker), DMK (three), Independent (one), AIADMK (four) AINRC (seven).
Congress MLA N Dhanavelou was disqualified in July last year under the anti-defection law.
There are two nominated members belonging to the BJP.
Namassivayam, who was No.2 in the cabinet, in his letter to Sonia Gandhi alleged that Narayanasamy had been sidelining him and other senior leaders who had been working sincerely for the party.
He also alleged Narayanasamy was intervening in the maters concerning his (Namasisivayam's) departments and was thus creating a 'parallel line of command forcing me to think of alternative path.' The senior leader, who was the Puducherry Congress president for a brief term from 2015, also said the chief minister had been deliberately attcking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Central government and Bedi from the first day in office without weighing its impact on people at large.
'People have suffered a lot because of the approach of the Chief Minister,' Namassivayam said in the letter, a copy of which was released to media.
An identical letter was sent separately to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also.
While people had great expectations from the Chief Minister, his 'inexperience in local governance was detrimental to executing the election manifesto of the party,' he said, in apparent reference to Narayanasamy's long stint as a union minister during the UPA rule.
He claimed that Narayanasamy kept accusing Modi and Bedi of impeding the Congress government's functioning only to avoid 'disgrace to his image.' With a coterie around him, he had pushed out leaders like former MP P Kannan, N Rangasamy, who went on to float the All-India NR Congress, and former speaker R Radhakrishnan by creating troubles to them although they had contact with the grass root level workers and people, Namassivayam claimed.
'Narayanasamy's intention was not to allow anybody to get recognition... After a long thought I have decided to end my association with the Chief Minister and resign from the primary membership of the Congress,' he said.
Addressing his supporters here Sunday night, Namassivayam had claimed he was 'pained by continued neglect of his representations for recognition of his workers.' BJP national president J P Nadda is scheduled to visit Puducherry on January 31 to address a rally of party workers here.
Anabalagan told PTI that Narayansamy should resign on moral grounds.
'There is every need for the Centre to study the prevailing political situation and take appropriate decision,' the AIADMK MLA added.
Earlier this month, the opposition parties have demanded that Narayanasamy prove his majority after DMK members were conspicous by their absence at the recent specialy assembly session where a resolution was passed against the contentious central farm laws.
They had also said the ties between DMK and Congress had strained of late.
The DMK had organised separate agitation on the farm laws and stayed away from a protest by the Congress-led alliance demanding the recall of Lt Governor Bedi. PTI CORR SS VS VS VS