PUDUCHERRY: The Congress party, whose main strength lies in the outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam, has decided to pursue its anti-statehood stand vigorously and instead try for a ‘Special category’ statehood for all the regions of the Union Territory. This would be part of the memorandum the party plans to submit to President Pranab Mukherjee during his visit here on September 26.
Former Union Minister of State and senior party leader V Narayanasamy, while addressing a meeting at the party office on Sunday, called upon Congress cadre to oppose the N R Congress government’s agenda of getting statehood for Puducherry and be prepared to self-immolate if the government pursues the statehood proposal.
Statehood will lead to losing of the outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam and that was not acceptable, said Narayanasamy. Besides, in terms of finance Puducherry will lose a major chunk of Central grants. This has been the reason behind the previous Congress government’s decision to reject statehood when the Centre was considering it, said Narayanasamy.
On the other hand, special category status would ensure financial stability as entire Puducherry would get 90 per cent of its budgetary expenditure as grants, he said.
On the other hand, the AINRC and other parties had been maintaining that Puducherry does not merit special category statehood as it does not fulfil the criteria and it was a ploy by the Congress to negate the demand.
The Congress has been citing the consideration of special status for the newly formed State of Andhra Pradesh as the basis for its claim.
Both special category statehood and Puducherry remaining a UT are beneficial to the Congress to keep its votebank in the outlying regions intact. This is also a strategy to keep its MLA Malladi Krishna Rao (who has been maintaining an anti-statehood stand for the last 18 years) in the fold and prevent him from moving to the AINRC.
Narayanasamy claimed Rao would remain in the Congress brushing aside all talk of him moving to the AINRC, saying it was only a rumour.
On the other hand, statehood is beneficial to the AINRC, which hardly has any advantage in the outlying regions of Mahe and Yanam, though in Karaikal it is somewhat better placed, and its main strength being the 23 constituencies in the Puducherry region.
Not only politically but even for power, the Chief Minister has been pitching for statehood. A statehood document titled “Discovering statehood for Puducherry” has been prepared with the involvement of M Ramadass, economist and former Lok Sabha member, and released by the CM in 2013. However, with the Congress adopting an anti-statehood stand, it was not pursued with the previous Congress-government at the Centre.
Now with the BJP government at the Centre and the AINRC being its ally, the NR Congress government may again pursue the statehood proposal, particularly when during the tenure of the BJP government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee, the standing committee on statehood had given a positive response to the proposal. However, as the Vajpayee government went out of power after that, the statehood proposal did not materialize.
The present session of the Assembly may also see another resolution being passed and thereafter a proposal sent to the government for obtaining it. In this context, the stand of the other political parties would also be of utmost significance.