With the Indian National Congress winning 15 out of the 30 assembly seats in Puducherry, and its ally the DMK grabbing 2 more, the combine is all set to form the next government in the Union Territory. But even as a Congress government becomes certain, a hot race is on for the CM's post. Puducherry Congress chief A. Namasivayam, senior Congress leader, former Puducherry CM Vaithialingam and former Union Minister Narayanaswami were said to be the front-runners for the top post.
Narayanaswami, who does not have an MLA seat, is vying for the Chief Ministerial post and is already said to have met Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Namasivayam is returning to from Delhi after meeting her on Wednesday. Sources in Puducherry say that Vaithilingam, who had served as Chief Minister during 1991-1996 and 2008-2011, was touted as a potential front-runner, but has since dropped out of the race. So the contest is now between the former Minister and the PCC chief.
Congress, which dislodged the NR Congress Government led by N. Rangasamy on Thursday by winning 15 seats, called a meeting of the legislators. The meeting attended by AICC observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik, is likely to authorise Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to choose the next Chief Minister.
Though former Union minister V. Narayanaswami evinced interest to lead the state, the Congress leadership is keen on a candidate who is already an MLA, and Rahul Gandhi is known to have opposed him. However, he has the support of at least 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs in the state, say sources.
Sources say that Namasivayam has an edge in the race since he was one of the vociferous opponents of Mr Rangasamy and had steered the party to victory after a gap of five years.
Rangasamy, has been under fire for allegations of the government misappropriating funds from the savings of government employees to prevent itself from going broke.
Namasivayam, 47, a two-time MLA for 15 years, belongs to the dominant Vanniyar caste and has the support of Rahul Gandhi. He is also former CM NR Rangaswamy's elder brother's son in law. However, Narayanswami has the support of MLAs, at least 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs in Puducherry support him. Delhi, however decides who will be the Chief Minister.