The Congress regained power in the Union territory of Puducherry on Thursday as the former French colony on the country’s west coast emerged as the only bright spot for the party in a politically disappointing summer.
The Congress won 15 seats out of 30 while its partner DMK bagged two, giving the alliance enough to throw out the ruling All India NR Congress which could manage just eight seats.
The win in Puducherry bucked the trend of the 2016 assembly elections in five other states where the Congress fared poorly, losing its 15-year-long grip in Assam and failing to make any impression in West Bengal despite an alliance with the Left.
The win also helped the Congress avenge its defeat in the 2011 elections when N Rangasamy broke away from the national party and led the newly-formed AINRC to victory.
The Congress’ campaign was centred on its slogan, “Rangasamy had betrayed the Congress and now he has betrayed Puducherry”, a reference to the split and allegations of corruption against the ruling party.
Senior Congress leader and former union minister V Narayansamy was very confident that “the corrupt, inept and inefficient Rangasamy government will be shown the door by the people.”
Poll analysts said that rising unemployment, closure of major industries and MNC firms, as well as dissatisfaction with his social welfare schemes may have stymied Rangasamy’s chances.
With the results sealed, the spotlight will now veer to the possible new chief minister.
Two-time chief minister and veteran Congress leader V Vaithalingam is a strong contender, especially after his decisive victory in the elections. But there has also been talk that Narayanswamy, who did not contest, may throw his hat into the ring.
Sources said that Puducherry Congress president A Namassivayam is also a contender for the top job.
Full coverage: Assembly elections