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Congress needs to worry more about rebels than opponents in Puducherry

The only time the Congress has lost Puducherry, it has been because of a rebel. The Congress and DMK together have won over 50% seats in every assembly elections in Puducherry since 1980, except in 2011

By Abhishek Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:32 PM IST

Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy exuded confidence regarding Congress winning the upcoming election after the fall of his government in the Union territory on Monday. At the same time, party strategists are worried that the fall of the government will be seen by the electorate as a sign that the Congress’s house is not in order.

This could be because while Puducherry is a Congress-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) stronghold (DMK was Congress’ partner in the Union territory’s government), the only recent electoral challenge they have faced is also from a party formed by a rebel leader—the All India NR Congress (AINRC).

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The Congress and DMK together have won over 50% seats in every assembly elections in Puducherry since 1980, except in 2011. The two parties were also the only winners of the lone Lok Sabha seat from the Union territory in every Lok Sabha election since 1967, except in 2014, when the seat went to the AINRC.

This long record of having won in Puducherry could be the reason for the Congress’ confidence about the upcoming election. On the other hand, even winning the assembly election this year would not be a guarantee of running the government if the party’s MLAs jump ship after the election. Governments formed by the party after winning elections have fallen in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, and there have been intermittent crises in Rajasthan as well.

The only challenge to the Congress and DMK’s dominance in the Union territory’s elections has come not from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or the Bharatiya Janata Party, but AINRC, which was formed by a former Congress chief minister, N Rangasamy. Whether or not the MLAs who have resigned from the Congress, leading to a fall of Narayanasamy’s government, float a joint front in the forthcoming elections, remains to be seen.

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