New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s barb of local body election not being conducted in Puducherry has triggered a new debate between the Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. Since 2016, the Union Territory of Puducherry was ruled by Narayansamy-led Congress government, and from 2011 to 2016, N.R. Rangaswamy-led All India NR Congress government. Local body elections in the Union Territory has not been conducted since 2011 despite the Supreme Court order in 2018. In order to conduct elections in Puducherry, the Puducherry government had appointed the State Election Commission (SEC) late last year. However, the L-G had declared the appointment as null and void.

The delay is primarily due to the incomplete delimitation process in the past several years. The matter has reached the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court, but there has been no conclusion until now. Political commentators have said that the main reason of tussle is the alleged clash of ego between the CM and the L-G. The CM believes that the L-G wants to topple the government. Experts said that the Assembly cannot appoint the SEC and only the L-G can appoint the SEC. Moreover, there is also a tussle going on between the government and the L-G. The government wants to distribute free rice to Puducherry residents, whereas the L-G suggested transferring cash to the people in order to curtail leakage in the public distribution system.

Expert said that the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) would help to check leakage in the system, but the Congress government is opposing it because it was the main poll plank in 2016. It is true that both the institutions are not cooperating with each other and they should come to the table and sort out the differences for the welfare of people, experts said.

Furthermore, the Congress has also been hit by multiple defections in the last one year. Two of Congress MLAs had defected since 2019. First, it was N. Dhanavelou, who had alleged that the Congress government is not concentrating on development works in 2019. Later he was suspended from the party.

In 2020, Narayansamy’s aide A. John Kumar had defected from the party and his meeting BJP in-charge Nirmal Kumar Surana had raised several eyebrows in the Union Territory. These defections have also brought a bad reputation to the party.