V Narayanasamy (File image: Twitter/@VNarayanasami)
Puducherry is going to elect a fresh assembly after a high-voltage political turmoil in the union territory, which resulted in the collapse of Congress-led government and imposition of President's Rule.
The political crisis led to dethrone beleaguered Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, a few months ahead of completing his five-year term in the office. The senior Congress leader resigned from his position on February 22 ahead of the confidence vote after his government was reduced to a minority following a spate of resignations by his party MLAs and a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) legislator.
During his tenure as the chief minister of Puducherry, Narayanasamy ran the government while wading through the issues including factionalism in the party for becoming the CM without contesting the assembly polls, face-off with former Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, controversies, and more. Before becoming a chief minister Narayanasamy has gone through a long political stint and served as a member of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, Minister of State (MoS), and president of Puducherry Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) among others. Take a look at his background, political life, and journey of Puducherry CM:
Born on May 30, 1947, to Velu and Iswary, Narayanasamy comes from a humble background. His father was a toddy tapper in a small village, Thavalakkuppam. He completed his graduation from Tagore Arts College. A first graduate in his family, he then pursued law in Annamalai University. He practiced law for more than ten years since 1973 and jumped into active politics in 1985.
Velu Narayanasamy entered politics by joining Congress and since then his loyalty to the party and its first family is legendary. In December 2015, a video of him holding a pair of slippers for Rahul Gandhi when he removed his shoes to walk through the slush and mud during the party leader’s visit to Puducherry during the floods went viral.
Asked about it, he said he was offering his slippers as a gesture of courtesy. “It was not Rahul Gandhi’s slippers, it was mine and I was holding it for him to wear out of courtesy so that he could walk through a flooded neighbourhood,” he said. [https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/i-held-slippers-for-rahul-gandhi-out-of-courtesy/article7966565.ece]
In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi nominated him as the Rajya Sabha MP from Puducherry. It was around this time, Narayanasamy got his nickname ‘Nari’, meaning fox in Tamil, which was given as per his reputation for being a wily politician, according to a Firstpost report [https://www.firstpost.com/politics/in-puducherry-v-narayanasamy-is-a-chief-minister-who-almost-no-one-wants-2818242.html].
His nickname derives from his political presence in Puducherry politics. “Narayanasamy has played a role in all of the major political upheavals in Puducherry, including the removal of N Rangasamy as Chief Minister in 2008. He is an expert at political subterfuge, and has used it many times. This is what has earned him many rivals, especially former Rajya Sabha MP P Kannan, and former Chief Minister N Rangasamy,” said the report citing a senior Congress member.
With the help of his “clever” political moves, he got himself several important posts in Congress, the report stated.
He was elected for the first time to Rajya Sabha in 1985 and retained the seat in 1991. However, he was defeated in the contest for the seat in the Upper House in 1997 by DMK and regained the seat in 2003. In 2009, he was elected as a Lok Sabha MP.
As the Puducherry PCC president in 2007, he proved his organisational capability by constituting committees at the booth and block levels.
He also served as MoS in the Prime Minister's Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Public Affairs during and in charge of Parliamentary Affairs in Manmohan Singh government.
Chief Minister of Puducherry
Narayanasamy sworn in as the tenth Chief Minister of Puducherry on June 6, 2016. Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, he got surrounded by controversy. When his name was announced for the CM office, members of his own party protested against the decision as Narayanasamy had not contested the assembly polls.
Narayanasamy was elected leader of the 15-member Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on May 28, 2016. There was stiff competition between Narayanasamy and PCC president A Namassivayam, who was elected for a second consecutive term, for the post of Chief Minister, but the former emerged the unanimous choice at the CLP meeting.
With this, he became only the second person to assume the office of Chief Minister in the UT, after his mentor P Shanmugam, without having a seat in the House.
Although, Congress members hoped Narayanasamy and the then Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi will work together and bring a struggling Puducherry economy back on its feet, it could not happen. The two had been at loggerheads for long. The CM had alleged on multiple occasions that Bedi tried to obstruct smooth administration by impeding the implementation of government decisions. He had also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bedi “hatched a conspiracy to dismantle the separate status of Puducherry by merging it with Tamil Nadu.”
Things between the Narayanasamy government and Bedi got so bad that the CM even sat on a fast and later demanded her ouster from President Ram Nath Kovind.
On February 16, 2021, Bedi was removed as the Lieutenat Governor of Puducherry. However, it could not bring any respite to the Narayanasami government as several MLAs of the Congress-DMK alliance in the UT began resigning, reducing the strength of the ruling alliance to minority in the 33-member Assembly.
Narayanasamy resigned after failing a floor test in the assembly on February 22. With the UT heading towards assembly elections in April, it is possible to argue that Narayanasamy’s loss is not as great as it may have been had he been toppled earlier.
Ahead of the elections, Narayanasamy has started campaigning for Secular Democratic Alliance (SDA), led by the ruling Congress. He has asserted that the SDA headed by Congress would get elected in the ensuing polls and they will "form the next government to serve the people."
In his public appearance, he has cautioned the voters against supporting the alliance comprising BJP, AINRC and AIADMK in the coming assembly polls here as these parties would have no qualms to merge the Union Territory with Tamil Nadu. He has also launched an emotional tirade against the BJP and its allies for "committing murder of democracy" by adopting "unprincipled practices to lure turncoats" to topple the democratically elected government.