We ran an honest government, BJP plotted against us: V Narayanasamy     

The BJP-led central government scuttled development work and welfare schemes in the UT through the Lt Governor, says former Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy in an exclusive interview

Former Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy (File photo)
Former Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy (File photo)
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Ashlin Mathew

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy resigned on February 22 after his government was reduced to a minority following desertion by a number of MLAs. Five legislators from the Congress including two ministers and one from the DMK had resigned in the recent weeks, in addition to the disqualification of a Congress legislator last year.

The House strength had come down to 26 from 33 due to which the opposition outnumbered the ruling alliance. Narayanaswamy says the BJP used the three nominated legislators to destabilise the government. Excerpts from an interview with him:

You completed almost five years in power and just days ahead of the announcement of elections, your MLAs quit. What happened?

BJP misused its power at the Centre and unleashed CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department to threaten ministers and lure MLAs. They had been trying this for the last four years and nine months. They did it with the support of the regional parties AIADMK and NR Congress. I defeated their sinister design in toppling our Congress-DMK government for so long.

Just when there are 10 days left for the code of conduct to come into force, they did this operation to create an impression in the minds of the public. Using nominated MLAs, they defeated our government on the floor of the House.

Why did the MLAs quit?

One of the ministers, A Namassivayam, who quit Congress and joined BJP is a real estate businessman. He was targeted in a disproportionate income case. Another minster Malladi Krishna Rao is from Eenam near Andhra Pradesh. He wanted his development projects cleared, so he surrendered to get his work done. Another MLA A. John Kumar was embroiled in an income tax case as allegedly he had not given proper accounts for Rs 22 crore. They promised him that his case would be withdrawn. That is how he was lured.

I was told that MLA Theepain than was lured with money. K. Lakshminarayanan was traditionally a Congressman, but he feared he would not get a ticket this time around as the alliance partner DMK has been claiming his seat (Raj Bhavan). DMK MLA K Venkatesan has a cooking oil business and is also a realtor. He was threatened with cases.

But many MLAs who quit have blamed you…

These MLAs cannot blame me for corruption. They were part of the government for almost five years. If they had so many complaints, why didn’t they leave in the first year itself? It is not that I was fighting with the earlier Governor Kiran Bedi alone. They also came and fought along with me. Has wisdom suddenly dawned on them? These are all ploys to switch parties by levelling false allegations against me.

Was there any way you could have saved the government?

I genuinely tried my best, but the stakes were too high. You know better how the BJP is acting. You have seen how they operated in a state like Karnataka where they spent crores of rupees. Money is not an issue fort hem. I am an honest politician. I have worked in the PMO, as minister for CBI, atomic energy, space, planning commission and I came here unscathed. Even as a Chief Minister, nobody can say that the CM is corrupt. I don’t want to be branded as a corrupt Chief Minister. I ran an honest government, but some of our people were involved though I don’t have evidence of that.

Do you have faith in the remaining MLAs?

Yes. We are watching them, but the 10 people with us are solid and rooted people.

What role do you think the central government played in toppling your government in Puducherry?

The central government and the local opposition in Puducherry joined hands to target my government for the last many years. I ran the government for almost five years against all these odds. If we would have been allowed to function independently, we could have done a lot more work.

Unfortunately, Narendra Modi and Kiran Bedi tried to give a bad name to our government, but our state’s GDP growth rate is 10.2 per cent. Narendra Modi’s growth rate is 0.7 per cent. The central government’s fiscal deficit is 9.5 per cent, which should normally be 3 per cent, while ours is 1.9 per cent. It means we managed the economy in a better way than the central government. We successfully stopped the spread of coronavirus. When the cyclone hit Puducherry, we were on ground to provide support to the people, which the Narendra Modi government did not like.

The Prime Minister is coming here on February 25 and they did not want a Congress government here then. They were operating from Delhi and toppled our government.

It was well-known that Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi and you were at odds. How did that affect the functioning of the government?

In 2016, our government came to power on July 6. Out of 30 seats, Congress contested in 21 and we won 15 seats, DMK contested in nine and won two seats. One Independent supported us and we formed the government with 18 members. There was a Parliament election where we won by more than 2 lakh votes. There was by-election because one member was disqualified. Alliance member DMK won the seat. I contested the by-election and got 70 per cent of the votes against AIADMK-NR Congress combine.

Then after parliamentary election, there was another by-election. That too we won with huge margin. In spite of all this, the BJP attempted the same drama they enacted in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Manipur over the last few years. They could not succeed. Now, at the end of my government, they used the central machinery to topple the government on Monday.

The Central government has tried everything to stop us from functioning effectively. They have not allocated the grants due to the state, GST compensation and they have not given us funds meant for implementing central government schemes. We have not been included in the 15th Finance Commission. All the states are getting 41 per cent grant, but Puducherry was given only 20 per cent grant.

I wanted Puducherry to be included in the 15th Finance Commission, but they refused. They blocked the free rice scheme to people. This was our state scheme; money for which would come from our Budget. The Modi government closed the mills here, and they did not allow us to sell mill land to settle the dues of the employees. We allocated money for breakfast scheme in schools, the government blocked it. We wanted to give laptop to Class X and XII students and they used LG Kiran Bedi to stop it. We wanted free rice for all the families of Puducherry, they blocked it saying only BPL families should get it. It is our own money, so why was the central government blocking it?

They did not want our state government to be praised. Through the LG, they did not allow our government to function. They posted officials against the decision of the state cabinet.

The Centre has now shunted out LG Kiran Bedi…

Her acts will not go away. Whatever she has done to block development schemes will not vanish. We will take those issues to the people. She blocked several people-friendly schemes including laying of roads. We will take these issues to the people. Simply because she has been transferred, the issues cannot be wiped out.

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Published: 25 Feb 2021, 2:00 PM