Two more MLAs quit in Puducherry; Cong-DMK strength dips to 11 a day ahead of floor test

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(Eds: Combines related stories) Puducherry, Feb 21 (PTI) Two more MLAs of the Congress- DMK alliance in Puducherry resigned on Sunday, delivering yet another jolt to Chief Minister V Narayanasamy as the ruling side's strength further depleted to 11 against opposition's 14 in the 33-member assembly, a day before the trust vote.

Beleaguered Narayanasamy, who held a meeting with the remaining MLAs of the Congress and DMK, said the government's strategy would be made known before Monday's floor test, ordered by Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, to prove his majority.

The fresh bout of resignations 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.

Soundararajan had on Thursday ordered the floor test after the opposition, which has 14 MLAs, petitioned her, saying the government has been reduced to minority and it should prove its strength in the assembly.

On Sunday, Congress member K Lakshminarayanan and DMK's K Venkatesan quit the assembly, with the former saying the government lacked majority in the wake of the spate of resignations while the Dravidian party legislator hit out at the alleged lack of funds to meet people's requirements.

The present party position in the assembly: 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.

Lakshminarayanan and Venkatesan submitted their resignation letters separately to Assembly Speaker V P Sivakolundhu at his residence here.

Speaking to reporters, Lakshminarayanan said, 'this government led by Narayanasamy has lost majority.' He said he has also resigned from the Congress party.

Later, Venkatesan told the media that he had quit the post of MLA only and continued to be in the DMK.

'... I was not able to meet the needs of the people in my constituency since there was no allocation of funds under the MLA Local Area Development fund,' he said.

Five Congress MLAs--including ex-ministers A Namassivayam (now in BJP) and Malladi Krishna Rao have quit since last month, while another party legislator was disqualified earlier.

Meanwhile, Narayanasamy, who held a meeting with the Congress and DMK MLAs and others here, said the discussions centered around the strategy to be adopted in the House on Monday.

'No final decision was taken by the participants at today's meeting... ministers and legislators of the Congress DMK alliance attended and they only discussed the strategy to be adopted on Monday,' the chief minister said.

While 'several suggestions' were put forth in the meeting, it was 'unanimously decided' that the coalition MLAs will meet on Monday again before the start of the special session of the House to take final decision.

'We will disclose our strategy on the floor of the House tomorrow,' Narayanasamy said.

The CM-chaired meeting was attended by all three Ministers - M Kandasamy, M O H F Shah Jahan and R Kamalakannan, deputy Speaker M N R Balan, Congress MLAs Vidjeaveny, T Jayamoorthy, government whip R K R Anandaraman, DMK legislators R Siva and Geetha Anandan, the lone Lok Sabha member V Vaithilingam and PCC president A V Subramanian.PTI CORR SA VS VS