Rebel may play spoilsport in Cong's chances in Puducherry

AINRC is founded by N Rangasamy, former chief minister of the Union Territory (UT), which has a population of over 12.44 lakhs.
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With barely a day to go for the campaign to end for the Assembly elections slated to be held here along with neighbouring Tamil Nadu on April 13,  the rival Congress groups are vying with one another to woo voters with freebies.

Though political alliances in Puducherry often follow the Tamil Nadu pattern,  the political equations are different.  National parties lead the respective fronts here, as the UT enjoys a unqiue direct fiscal link with New Delhi that gives national parties an edge over regional ones. Thus the Congress here, hoping to return to power for a third successive term, is leading the front that includes the DMK, PMK, and the Dalit outfit, VCK. The Jayalalitha-led-AIADMK is supporting Rangasamy’s outfit to lead the alternate alliance that includes the CPI, CPI(M) and actor Vijayakant-led DMDK.

In both fronts, INC and the All India NR Congress have taken the major share of 17 of the 30 seats, while their respective allies DMK and AIADMK is contesting  10 seats each. The BJP is contesting 20 seats.

Promises galore

Bitten by Tamil Nadu’s freebies bug, the Congress promised the voters 35 kg of monthly free rice for all BPL family card holders, free laptops to students joining engineering and medical  courses, one free cellphone for each household, besides a free refrigerator or a water purifier to every house, among others.  

Congress rebel Rangasamy, is not far behind. The AINRC on Sunday came out with a more radical manifesto so to say. Taking a leaf out of the AIADMK’s manifesto, Rangasamy promised among many things, free 15 kg rice for ration card holders, free computers to even tenth and PUC students of government schools and a free washing machine to all ration card holders.

Ironically, Rangasamy, once hailed as ‘Pondicherry’s Kamaraj’ for his simplicity and accessibility, later earned the Congress high command’s wrath. He was shown the door to be replaced by a more loyal old-hand V Vaithilingam.  As Independents have always played a key role in the past in working with a fractured mandate here, Rangasamy, contesting from two seats now, is hoping to cash in on the anti-incumbency along with the AIADMK.    
 

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