PUDUCHERRY: BJP Puducherry unit president V Swaminathan, who managed get only an abysmal 1,509 votes to the winning candidate’s 1.21 lakh votes in the last Assembly election, is set to become an MLA after the Union Home Ministry appointed three BJP men as nominated members to the territorial assembly, bypassing the elected Congress government led by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy.
Along with Swaminathan, the panel of names that Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi forwarded to the Centre includes party treasurer KG Shankar and a sympathiser, S Selvaganapathy.
“The central government may nominate not more than three persons, not being persons in the service of government, to be members of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory,” says Sub Section (3) of Section 3 of the Union Territory Act, 1963, on the appointment of nominated MLAs.
In the absence of clear cut guidelines, the convention that evolved made it the prerogative of the elected government to recommend a panel to the Union Home Ministry, who would then be appointed though the LG based on orders from the Centre.
But breaking this convention, the elected government does not figure in the nomination and appointment this time, which has already caused an uproar in the political circles.
After coming to power a year ago, Narayanasamy government had not recommended any panel due to differences with LG Bedi and the Centre, besides the party’s own dilemma in deciding the names.
This is not BJP’s first attempt at gaining backdoor entry into the territorial assembly. In 2001, at a time the party was in power at the Centre, it made moves to appoint three nominated MLAs based on the panel recommended by the then Lt Governor Rajani Rai. This effort to bypass the then Congress government led by P Shanmugham did not finally materialise.
However, this time, the orders have been already been issued and sent to Puducherry government, sources said.
Swaminathan had contested the last two elections from Lawspet constituency and lost deposits. In the 2016 poll, he polled only 1,509 votes, while the winner, VP Sivakozhundhu, received over 1.21 lakh.
Party treasurer Shankar is an industrialist who owns units at Mettupalayam in Puducherry and at Thoothukudi. Selvaganapathy, a party sympathiser, is an educationist running higher secondary and high schools, and a BEd college at Lawspet and Iyankuttipalayam respectively.
Once these three take oath of office, the strength of the House would rise to 33. Now, the ruling Congress has 15 members, and has the support of ally DMK who has seven members, and an independent. The opposition bench consists of principal opposition All India NR Congress with eight members, and the AIADMK that has four – the latter have strongly opposed LG Bedi on matters including nomination of members.
So far, nominated MLAs have been appointed six times - 1985, 1990, 1991, 1996, 2006 and 2011. With no clarity in rules in appointment, these were persons chosen by the ruling government to inflate its strength and also to fulfil political commitments.
Swaminathan said the appointment would help in developing the BJP in the Union Territory, while other parties including DMK, AIADMK, and CPI have termed it undemocratic.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA K Lakshminarayanan, who have filed a petition before the High Court of Madras, is trying to get a stay on this order from the Court.