Puducherry PWD Minister A Namassivayam on Monday resigned from the Ministry and also from the Assembly after the ruling Congress suspended him from primary membership on charges of anti-party activities. Another Congress legislator E Theeppainthan also quit from the Assembly and the two submitted their resignation to Speaker V P Sivakolundhu at his office, bringing down the strength of the ruling Congress to 12 in the 30-member House.
The development comes months ahead of the Assembly polls in the union territory likely to be held during April or May. Namassivayam, who was No.2 in the cabinet, made known his decision to quit the V Narayanasamy ministry and also as a legislator amid speculation that he was planning to join the BJP.
The strength of the cabinet has now come down to five. Earlier, Puducherry Congress Committee president A V Subramanian announced at a press meet earlier in the day that Namassivayam was suspended from the primary membership of the party for 'anti-party activities'.
Namassivayam and Theeppainathan submitted the letters of resignation to the Speaker at his office, according to sources close to them. With the resignation of the two MLAs, the strength of the ruling Congress which was returned from 15 constituencies in the 2016 Assembly polls has come down to 12 in the 30- member House.
Namassivayam represented Villianoor constituency while Theeppainthan was elected from Oussudu (reserved) constituency. Congress legislator N Dhanavelou was disqualified in July last year by the Speaker under the Anti-Defection Act.
The Congress has the support of the three DMK members from outside. Namassivayam also submitted his resignation letter as Minister to the Speaker as the Chief Minister was not present at his office, sources close to him said.
In his letter, he thanked the Chief Minister for the opportunity given to him to serve the people of the union territory. Namassivayam, who was suspended from the primary membership of the Congress for his 'anti-party activities' had allegedly been making moves to shift allegiance to the BJP and kept himself away from party meetings including that of the executive committee held at the PCC office Sunday.
Addressing his supporters here Sunday night, he had claimed he was "pained by continued neglect of his representations for recognition of his workers." "However, patience has a limit. Hence I have decided to quit as Minister and also as MLA," he added. The BJP national president J P Nadda is scheduled to visit Puducherry on January 31 to address a rally of party workers here.
The party-wise break-up in the Assembly following Monday's development is: Congress (12 including Speaker), DMK (three), Independent (one), AIADMK (four) and AINRC (seven). There are two nominated members belonging to the BJP following the death of K G Shankar last week.