Can the BJP’s ambition of getting a toehold in a Tamil-speaking state become true when results to the Puducherry Assembly are announced on Sunday?
The BJP is contesting nine seats as part of the alliance led by AINRC of former Chief Minister N. Rengasamy and hopes to be part of the coalition government if the AINRC-BJP-AIADMK front wins. Most exit polls have predicted a comfortable win for the front in view of the anti-incumbency against the previous Narayanaswamy government which collapsed in late February.
The BJP had engineered defections from Congress to bring down the Narayanaswamy government in the hope of leading an alliance in the UT. But Rengasamy proved to be a tough customer as he refused to accept A. Namassivayam, who had defected to the BJP, as the CM candidate. Forced into a corner the BJP conceded Rengasamy’s demand to be the largest partner of the front. With the AINRC contesting 14 seats, Rengasamy has assured himself another shot at the CM’s post.
The BJP’s larger game plan is to become a ruling partner in the UT, make its presence felt and expand its footprint in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Since the DMK and AIADMK are only minor players in the UT the BJP hopes to emerge as one of the top three parties here. “The idea is to understand the psyche of Tamil voters. Puducherry presents an ideal laboratory for that,” said a BJP leader.
The Congress, which had always enjoyed a sizable presence in the UT, is fighting this election with no strong leader. The defection of some of the top leaders and Rengasamy forming his breakaway party in 2011 has emaciated the Congress. Blaming Narayanaswamy for the drastic turn of events the high command denied him an Assembly ticket.