As the election season sets in across Indian states, political leaders are fighting tooth and nail to remain in power. Among others, Puducherry which represents nothing more than a dot on the Indian map and has only one representative in the Parliament is also gearing up for the upcoming state assembly elections. As the election in this southern state is about to go on floors, here are some of the key points we must know.

Election to Go on Floors on April 6

The Election Commission of India in February announced the schedule for the assembly elections in the Union Territory of Puducherry. During a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said that the assembly elections in UT, which is currently under presidential rule, will be held in a single phase on April 6, and counting of votes will be done on May 2.

Congress, BJP, MNM Among Other Parties in Fray

Congress, which will be looking to assume power in the UT again, will be fighting the election in alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Meanwhile, the BJP is in alliance with All India NR Congress, DMK’s rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and other smaller parties. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan and his party Makkal Needhi Maiam will also be contesting in the elections. A Tamil Nationalist Party, Naam Tamilar Katchi, is also said to be in the fray.

The previous assembly election was won by the Congress, with the grand old party winning 15 seats and the DMK victorious on three in the 33-member assembly. V Narayanasamy became the chief minister and stayed in office till February 22, 2021, when he was unable to clear the floor test. The assembly at present has 33 seats in total. Out of these 33, three are nominated and the rest are directly elected. The majority mark is 16 to form the government.

Puducherry Gears Up For Polling in 30 Constituencies

In Puducherry, the stage is set for polling in 30 constituencies. The Congress, which heads the Secular Democratic Alliance in the union territory, was allotted 15 of the 30 Assembly seats and its ally DMK has been allocated 13 seats.VCK and CPI, the other constituents of the alliance, have been given one seat each. However, the list did not contain the name of the party veteran and former chief minister V Narayanasamy.

The All India N.R. Congress is contesting 16 seats, BJP 9 seats, and the remaining 5 seats by AIADMK.

As many as 324 candidates will be in the fray with NDA announcing N Rangasamy, former Chief Minister and President of AINRC, as the Chief Ministerial candidate who will beseeking election from two segments, Thattanchavady in Puducherry region and Yanam. The Congress is supporting an Independent candidate Gollapalli Srinivas Ashok in Yanam.

Popularity of Individual Candidates, a Deciding Factor in Winning Elections

As per reports by PTI, Assembly constituencies in the Puducherry regions are small with about 25,000-35,000 voters. The popularity of individual candidates in the area often becomes the deciding factor in winning elections. On many occasions and in many constituencies, Independents have risen up to expectations and won the elections.

This time, three constituencies Karaikal district namely Tirunallar, Nedunkadu, and Neravy-TR Pattinam constituencies are seeing independents as among the top contenders. If any of the independents go on to win the elections, they might play a crucial role in the formation of the next government in the Union Territory.

Puducherry, a Springboard for BJP? 

As per reports by News18, BJP stalwarts PM Modi and Amit Shah have been promising milk, honey among other amenities to the people of Puducherry in the hope that a victory in the union territory could be the springboard for the BJP to dive into the seat of power in neighboring Tamil Nadu, where the two Dravidian majors, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), have been holding the fort.

The saffron plan is to usher in huge development and infra projects into the tiny UT, create jobs, and lift the standard of living after ensuring the victory of the alliance featuring the BJP. This, the saffron camp hopes, will mean that voters across the borders in Tamil Nadu will become envious and would start aligning themselves to BJP. In that case, the 2026 election could be a good harvest time.

BJP Manifesto Promises Host of Measures for Women Empowerment

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released the Puducherry manifesto titled ‘BEST Puducherry’ meaning Puducherry should become a ‘business hub (B), education hub (E), spiritual hub (S) and tourism hub (T)’ in the last week of March. Free education for girls from kindergarten to higher education, 50 percent quota for women in local bodies, re-opening of textile mills, and setting up of textile parks were some of the proposals made in the BJP’s poll manifesto unveiled by FM.

Did BJP Breach Aadhaar Data Privacy of Voters? 

The Madras High Court ordered the Election Commission of India to probe allegations of targeted campaigning by the BJP in Puducherry, wherein phone numbers of voters were obtained using data from Aadhar cards. The direction following a petition filed by Puducherry President, who sought action against BJP for targeting voters at the booth level and sending them ‘predatory’ SMSes to add them in a booth-level WhatsApp group of the BJP.

In its defense, the counsel representing the Puducherry unit of the BJP told the judges that the party did not steal any mobile phone data. It was collected by its Karyakartas (party) over a long period. It further clarified that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it had used innovative methods of sending SMS to voters with a link to join booth level WhatsApp groups.

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