Dalit minister’s resignation in Puducherry: Opposition demands prosecution of CM

Puducherry Chief Minister Rangasamy should be prosecuted under SC-ST Atrocities Prevention Act, says predecessor Narayanasamy
Chandira Priyanga (Left); V Narayanasamy (Right)
Chandira Priyanga (Left); V Narayanasamy (Right)
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Congress leader and former Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has slammed the All India NR Congress-BJP government over the recent resignation of Chandira Priyanga - a lone woman minister who belonged to a Dalit community - and called the ruling alliance anti-woman and anti-Dalit. 

In a press meet on October 11, Wednesday, Narayanaswamy said that Chief Minister Rangaswamy himself should be booked under the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act as Chandira Priyanga had charged that she had been subjected to discrimination on grounds of gender and caste. 

Narayanasamy alleged that Chief Minister Rangaswamy met Union Territory’s (UT) Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan purportedly over the dismissal of Chandira, but it was only to request induction of Thirumurugan - elected from Karaikal North constituency - as a cabinet minister. Narayanasamy also claimed that Rangaswamy had sent a letter to the Union Home Minister's office secretly, suggesting Chandira’s dismissal. 

Narayanasamy said “The letter was sent to the Union Home Minister's office and it was accepted. Puducherry government allegedly received the response over the dismissal of Chandira Priyanga on October 10 morning. When Chandira came to know about this, she tendered her resignation.” Even though it was very much in his powers to dismiss anyone from the cabinet, why was it necessary for him to do so secretly,  he asked, adding that it was an insult to a Dalit-woman legislator. He called AINRC-BJP alliance anti-women and accused Rangaswamy of nursing anti-Dalit sentiments.     

The Congress leader also urged the UT government to release a statement over the ‘dismissal’ of Chandira and to list out the reasons that led to the decision to dismiss her from the cabinet. 

 “As a Dalit woman, her charges against her own party members are very serious. Rangasamy and the BJP should take responsibility to address her charges,” he added further. 

Tamilisai on October 11 had refuted Chandira's allegations and claimed that Rangasamy expressed concern about Priyanga's performance as early as six months ago. Tamilisai, reportedly, advised Rangaswamy to advise Priyanga to improve her work.

“Citing poor performances, they dismissed her. But what about other ministers in the Cabinet? What about the performance of the Chief Minister of the UT? If at all anyone needs to be dismissed for poor performance, it should be Rangaswamy,” he said and leveled corruption allegations against the ruling coalition. 

At a time when the Union government led by the BJP was proposing 33% reservation to women, the resignation of a woman minister, that too from a Dalit community, has triggered a political outcry in Puducherry.

 In the press meet, Narayanasamy also took a dig at Governor Tamilisai’s complicity/silence in the Priyanga issue when she was otherwise vocal about women's rights.  

Chandira, who is the daughter of former Puducherry Minister Chandirakasu, entered politics in 2016 after her father passed away. She was elected twice from the Nedungadu (reserved) constituency in Karaikal, in 2016 and 2021. 

In the 2021 assembly elections, she contested against Marimuthu of the Indian National Congress and won by a margin of 8,560 votes. Chandira was inducted into the cabinet as Transport minister, and she was also entrusted with a number of other portfolios, including Adi Dravidar Welfare, Housing, Labour and Employment, Art and Culture, and Economics and Statistics. It is to be noted that she was the second woman minister in the 41-year history of Puducherry.

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