The congressional government in Pondicherry is the second to fall in less than a year

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Process avoids anti-defection law provisions, allows lawmakers to switch parties

As the government led by V. Narayanasamy in Pondicherry collapsed on the floor of the Assembly on Monday, congressional leaders blasted the BJP for “toppling” elected governments, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, claiming that the saffron party had tried it in his state as well.

The government elected in Pondicherry became the second congressional government, in less than a year, to be identically ousted.

In March last year, the government led by Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh (MP) lost power after 22 MPs, many of whom were loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, resigned from the assembly. Many of them eventually joined the BJP and were re-elected in subsequent ballots.

Reacting to the developments in Pondicherry, Mr Gehlot, in a series of tweets, said it was another case of how the BJP was destabilizing congressional governments to seize power by contrary means to ethics.

“First they created problems in the management of the administration by the lieutenant governor and now it has happened,” said Mr. Gehlot, adding: “The attraction of congressmen has been their modus operandi in all states ruled by Congress We have seen it in Karnataka MP and now #Puducherry They tried it in Rajasthan but the people of Rajasthan taught them a lesson.

In recent years, an open revolt against a chief minister followed by the resignation of MPs has been a common avenue to bring down state governments while escaping the provisions of the anti-defection law.

The law requires two-thirds of lawmakers to leave the parent party in order to legally merge with another party. However, a deputy can “voluntarily” renounce the quality of member of the Assembly.

In 2018, the Congressional government led by HD Kumarswamy-Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) also collapsed on the floor of the House after the resignation of 15 rebel MPs belonging to Congress and the JD-S; many of them later joined the BJP.

“@ BJP4India is killing democracy again. Using ED, IT and other agencies, spending millions of rupees, they toppled an elected government. @INCIndia will go to the people, the people of #Puducherry will give a dignified response to the elections, ”tweeted Dinesh Gundu Rao, the congressional committee of India in charge of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Goa.

While some of the congressional leaders in Delhi believe that the fall of the Pondicherry government may help the party with a “sympathy” factor and quash opposition to power, others believe it is a harbinger of the future of the poll linked to Tamil Nadu where the Congress is part of the alliance led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK).

In the 2017 legislative elections in Goa and Manipur, Congress had emerged as the largest party, but governors invited BJP-led alliances in those states.

Beyond Pondicherry, the developments are also a warning to the congressional leadership about the problems it faces in the United States. Mr Gehlot’s tweets on Rajasthan recall his icy relationship with former deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who led a rebellion last July. With Mr. Pilot now launching mass outreach programs on his own, Congress’ problems are far from resolved.

In Maharashtra, where Congress shared a difficult alliance with Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) under the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the appointment of Nana Patole, who resigned as President of the Maharashtra Assembly, had added to friction between allies because they were not consulted.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan criticized developments in Pondicherry on Monday, accusing the BJP of replacing democracy with money and communalism. He also accused congressional lawmakers of lining up to switch sides and reducing the party to a commodity.

“What we saw in Pondicherry is a trade deal between those who are ready to sell and buy democracy. It is a shameful chapter of Indian democracy! The BJP is playing a dangerous game of replacing democracy with money and communalism, ”he said in a series of tweets.

Mr. Vijayan added: “When the INC boils down to a commodity that can be bought by the BJP, it is the left and democratic forces that come up with alternative policies. Pondicherry reminds us of the need to strengthen these unwavering forces in their defense of democracy, secularism and development.


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