No headway had been made between the AINRC and BJP on the Deputy Chief Minister’s post and sharing of ministerial berths
Uncertainty continues over the Cabinet formation in Puducherry even almost two weeks after N. Rangasamy took over as Chief Minister heading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government.
After the NDA garnered a simple majority in the recent Assembly polls with Rangasamy’s All India N. R Congress garnering 10 seats and Bharatiya Janata Party 6 in the 30-member Assembly, Mr Rangasamy had assumed office on April 7.
Though the initial plan was to conduct the swearing-in ceremony of the entire Ministry, the hard bargaining by the BJP for a Deputy Chief Minister’s post and two to three ministerial berths had prompted the Chief Minister to postpone the induction of his Cabinet colleagues.
Two days later the Chief Minister was diagnosed for COVID-19 and hospitalised for nine days in Chennai.
While his post-discharge home quarantine will end on Sunday, no headway had been made between AINRC and BJP on the Deputy Chief Minister’s post and sharing of ministerial berths. The relationship between the two parties has also further strained due to the Centre’s decision to nominate three BJP local leaders into the Legislative Assembly.
“They wanted to match our strength in the Assembly and without consulting the Chief Minister or other alliance partner, the AIADMK, they (the Centre) took a decision to appoint nominated MLAs belonging to BJP. They didn’t even consider the fact that the Chief Minister was in the hospital. As of now, there is no clear indication on the cabinet expansion,” a senior AINRC functionary told The Hindu.
BJP leaders, however, maintained that appointment of nominated legislators was the prerogative of Centre and there was no breach in any pre-poll understanding. The newly elected legislators have also not been sworn-in due to the delay in the appointment of a pro-tem Speaker.
An authoritative source in AINRC said the Chief Minister had forwarded the file to the Lt Governor seeking her permission to appoint senior legislator K. Lakshminarayanan as pro-tem Speaker on May 9.
“We are yet get hear anything on the pro-tem Speaker’s appointment. At least if we were sworn-in, the legislators could have led the fight against COVID-19 in our constituencies. We cannot hold any meetings on COVID-19,” the AINRC leader said.
DMK, which is the principal Opposition party, had already petitioned the Lt Governor on the delay in the Cabinet formation. Leader of DMK in the house R. Siva said, “When a new government comes to power, people will have lot of expectations but in the UT, the NDA has disappointed people because of their power struggle. People are not asking for money or new announcements of welfare or development schemes from the new government, but political leadership to contain the spread of COVID-19. Now, what is happening in the UT is complete administrative disarray in COVID management.”
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