Voting began in the Union Territory of Puducherry on Tuesday, 6 April, with newly appointed Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan among the first to cast her vote. The Union Territory has recorded 35.71 percent voter turnout till 12 pm on Tuesday.
“My only request is that 100 percent of the population votes and all of them wear masks. I also request people to stand in queues maintaining social distancing, not throw away masks. While voting is important, responsible voting is most essential,” she said after voting.
NR Congress chief N Rangaswamy as well as BJP Puducherry president and candidate from Lawspet constituency, V Saminathan, also cast their votes on Tuesday. Former ministers M Kandasamy and Malladi Krishna Rao have also cast their votes.
Puducherry is divided into 30 Assembly constituencies, all of which are voting on Tuesday in one phase. Five of these are reserved for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes.
MAIN PARTIES IN THE FRAY
The main parties in the fray include N Rangasamy’s All India NR Congress (AINRC), that is seeking votes from 16 seats. The party is in an alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that is contesting in nine seats and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) which is contesting in four seats.
On the other hand, the Congress is contesting in 14 seats and supporting an independent in Yanam. Its ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is contesting in 13 seats.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) too has filed nominations for a few seats in Puducherry. Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) withdrew its candidates and announced its support to the AINRC.
FALL OF THE CONG-LED GOVT
The Union Territory saw the fall of the elected government headed by Congress’ V Narayanasamy in February 2021.
The Congress in Puducherry had been hit by a spate of resignations in January, when four-time Congress MLA Lakshminarayanan, DMK MLA K Venkatesan, former ministers A Namassivayam and Malladi Krishna Rao quit.
V Narayanasamy-led government was reduced to 12 MLAs while the Opposition’s strength stood at 14 in the 33-member House.
Though the Opposition had a majority, they chose to not stake claim to the government and decided to face the elections.
In February, Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, was removed and additional charge of the Union Territory was given to Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.
Incidentally, Narayanasamy will not be contesting this election on a Congress ticket.
Here are the key constituencies and leaders to look out for in Puducherry in this Assembly election.
Yanam, an Assembly constituency of the Union Territory of Puducherry – geographically located in Andhra Pradesh – has turned out to be an important constituency this election as the AINRC leader N Rangasamy is contesting from here.
AIADMK leader A Anbalagan is contesting from Uppalam. He is the sitting MLA and has been holding the Uppalam constituency since 2001. He is facing the challenge from DMK’s Annibal Kennedy, a former legislator.
Former PWD minister A Namassivayam, who left the Congress, is contesting as the BJP’s candidate from Mannadipet constituency. He has shifted his residence to Thirukkanur in the constituency.