By leaving out its former chief minister V. Narayanasamy the Congress has punished the veteran for failing to defend the Congress government from poaching which resulted in President’s Rule in the Union Territory, a few weeks before the Assembly election, and for deliberately misleading Rahul Gandhi with a wrong translation.
Narayanasamy’s name was missing from the Congress list of 14 candidates announced by party general secretary Mukul Wasnik. Party in charge Dinesh Gundu Rao also confirmed that Narayanasamy will not be contesting this time and instead will supervise the party’s election campaign. The Congress will be contesting 15 seats in alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Left and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) in the UT that is going to polls along with Tamil Nadu on April 6.
Narayanasamy fell out of favour with the party high command when he wrongly translated a fisherwoman’s complaint to Rahul Gandhi when the latter had toured Puducherry recently.
The beleaguered Puducherry chief minister V. Narayanasamy, already struggling to save his government, was caught on camera misrepresenting a fisherwoman’s grievance to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
While Rahul Gandhi was talking to the fisher community at Nellithope during his Puducherry visit, a middle-aged woman complained that very little has changed for them over the years. “No one comes to our support. Even he (pointing to Narayanaswamy) did not visit us after the cyclone,” she complained in Tamil even as the audience cheered.
When Rahul turned to the chief minister saying “Tell her we would look into it”, Narayanaswamy who was acting as interpreter, interjected hurriedly and cleverly twisted the woman’s words while translating it into English: “During that time, during Nivar cyclone, I came and visited the area and gave relief to them. That she is saying.” Essentially the CM conveyed to his leader exactly the opposite meaning of what the woman meant. He converted her complaint into praise.
Ultimately the joke was on poor Rahul since he had to go by what his Chief Minister conveyed to him and not the exact feelings of the poor woman.
“His goose was cooked on that day. Also, ahead of Rahul’s visit two more Congress MLAs had resigned from the Assembly which caused huge embarrassment to our leader,” said a former Minister in the UT government.
Even in 2016, Narayanasamy was not the choice of MLAs since he had not contested the Assembly elections. Instead, he was thrust on the MLAs by the high command displacing their choice A. Namassivayam, who had spearheaded the party’s campaign.
Narayanasamy, who was MoS in the PMO of Manmohan Singh had used his clout with the party high command to parachute as the chief minister after the Congress-led alliance managed a majority in the 2016 elections.
In February this year, Namassivayam and another MLA joined the BJP setting in motion the spate of resignations that led to the fall of the Congress government. Even John Kumar, the MLA who had vacated his seat to enable the CM to contest and win a by-election, resigned and joined the BJP.
Clearly, the party wants a departure from Narayanasamy’s brand of abrasive politics which also saw the chief minister engaging in a power struggle with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, who was removed just before his government fell.
As the Union Territory elects a new government, the two main actors who dominated the former French colony’s politics for five years will not be on the political stage.
But a veteran Puducherry watcher cautioned against counting Narayanasamy completely out. “He is such a smooth operator that if the Congress again emerges as the single largest party he may persuade one of the MLAs to quit for him and will try to become chief minister again,” he said.