CHENNAI: The cracks in the four-party coalition, People’s Welfare Alliance, that was formed ahead of the May 2016 assembly election have grown into fissures in neighbouring Puducherry, where the VCK has declared its support Chief Minister V Narayanasamy who is contesting in the upcoming Nellithope bypolls.
This came at a time when the other allies have not taken a stand on this, and came close on the heels of increasing trouble within the coalition.
A delegation led by VCK general secretary D Ravikumar and principal secretary Deva Pozhilan met Puducherry Pradesh Congress president A Namasivayam at the PCC office and handed over the formal letter declaring their support in the November 19 election.
Facing the bypoll after becoming the Chief Minister, Narayanasamy had sought support from all parties except the direct rivals - AIADMK, AINRC and the BJP. Following this, the VCK convened its executive committee meeting on Sunday to discuss the matter.
“Basically VCK wants to strengthen the hands of secular forces, as the communal elements are trying to raise head in Puducherry. The BJP government at the Centre is trying to establish its presence in Puducherry as it is under their direct control,” justified Ravikumar.
Going the full hog, the party has also decided to field its star campaigner and leader Thol Thirumavalavan, who will campaign in the coming days.
This move has more political significance than electoral benefit for Narayanasamy, as the VCK has only limited base in the constituency. Dalit population at Nellithope is limited to two wards, Periyar Nagar and Shakti Nagar, which could add up to a couple of hundred votes as was seen in the previous elections. What Narayanasamy stands to gain is the tag of being the common candidate, which comes at a time when the opposition is considering fielding a common candidate.
While most leaders are maintaining that things are normal within the alliance, the VCK’s decision to breakaway on this has spread uneasiness among the partners. Ravikumar pointed out that the alliance was primarily Tamil Nadu-centric and added that the political situation in Puducherry was different. He said his party is aware that the national organisations like the Left cannot take a decision on Puducherry alone. Ravikumar denied rumours of the impending disintegration of the alliance, stating that the partnership was based on a common minimum programme and not political stand.
The move has understandably upset the alliance partners, who were taken by surprise when the VCK made the announcement. “It’s most unfortunate. It goes against stated position of PWA not to have any truck with Congress, BJP, AIADMK and DMK,” senior CPM leader and Rajya Sabha MP TK Rangarajan told Express on Monday. Asserting that the CPI will not support the Congress, the party’s Tamil Nadu State secretary R Mutharasan said: “I am yet to talk to Thirumavalavan about this.
They might have come to the decision taking into account the conditions in Puducherry,” he added. It is not easy for the Left parties to back Narayanasamy and his party, against whom they have already raised serious allegations of cash distribution and misuse of official machinery. In fact, these were the reasons that the PWA cited to boycott the election. They are as yet undecided on the matter, said CPI leader R Viswanathan, the PWA convener in Puducherry.
Facing probing questions about the future of the alliance, Viswanathan said PWA was not a monolith as a coalition after the last assembly elections. “We have conducted several joint agitations, but as separate entities and not as PWA,” he claimed.
(With inputs from R SIVAKUMAR @ Chennai)