In Puducherry, Congress Bags Half of All Assembly Seats

Kalapet in north east Puducherry maintains its unique trend of picking a candidate from the winning party.

N. Rangasamy of the AINRC during an election campaign in the Bahoor reserved constituency in Puducherry, May 14, 2016. Credit: PTI Photo

N. Rangasamy of the All India N. R. Congress during an election campaign in the Bahoor reserved constituency in Puducherry, May 14, 2016. Credit: PTI Photo

The only cause for celebration for the Congress – amidst the gloom of losing Kerala and Assam, and not being able to capitalise on the anti-incumbency sentiment with its allies in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu – was winning the small union territory of Puducherry, where it bagged 15 of the 30 seats and is poised to form the government.

Ever since its two-time former chief minister, N. Rangaswamy, broke away from the party in 2011 and floated his own outfit, the All India N. R. Congress (AINRC), the Congress has struggled to regain its hold in the union territory. Rangaswamy’s AINRC won the 2011 polls, bagging 15 seats, while the Congress won just seven seats.

This time the Congress, under the leadership of V. Narayanaswamy, managed to oust Rangaswamy by securing 15 seats. With the AINRC bagging eight seats, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) four, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) two and one seat going to an independent candidate, the Congress looks set to take over the reins of Puducherry. The BJP, however, which bagged the lone Lok Sabha seat from Puducherry in 2014, failed to open its account in the state in the assembly polls.

In percentage terms, the difference between the vote share of the Congress at 30.6% and the AINRC at 28.1% may not be much. But in the wake of a number of close contests, the vote share has translated into a significant lead for the national party in terms of seats won.

One such close contest was in Kalapet, which, in each election since 1990, has voted in favour of a candidate from the party that has gone on to form the government. This time too, in keeping with the Congress’ overall performance in the state, its candidate M.O.H.F. Shahjahan defeated independent candidate P.M.L. Kalyanasundaram by a margin of 634 votes.

Kalapet’s trend of picking candidates from the winning party candidate remains intact. It is believed that the place has this ability because it is located in the north-east of the state, which is considered “Sani Moolai” or “Saturn’s corner”; any work initiated here ends in success.