The April 13 Assembly polls in the Union Territory of Puducherry is shaping up to be a face-off between two fronts -- the ruling Congress-DMK combine and the oppositon All India NR Congress- All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam alliance.
While the Congress- Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam alliance is seeking to establish its successive government in the union territory, the opposition front is determined to get the present government removed from power and bring in its rule with (AINRC) founder N Rangasamy as chief minister.
Following the pre-poll alliance talks with the AIADMK, the AINRC has been earmarked 17 seats, while the AIADMK will contest 10. The Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam have each been allotted the remaining three seats. The Congress is contesting from 17 seats while the DMK has been allotted 10. The Pattali Makkal Katchi has been earmarked two seats and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi one.
Rangasamy was ousted as chief minister in August 2008, with his own then ministerial colleagues revolting against him. He first became the chief minister in 2001 and after a five year term wore the mantle of chief ministership in 2006. The Rangasamy-led party locks horns with Congress in 11 segments and with the DMK in four seats.
The AIADMK is pitted against the DMK in five seats and will face Congress in four constituencies. The CPI challenges Congress nominee and present Chief Minister V Vaithilingam in Kamaraj Nagar, an urban segment. The DMDK will face the DMK in one segment in Karaikal, while Home and Health minister E Valsaraj of Congress will contest in Mahe against a CPI(M) candidate.
The Bharatiya Janata party and a few other parties, including the Bahujan Samaj party, are going it alone in the polls. AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa had during her poll campaign projected Rangasamy as chief ministerial candidate, and sought support to jettison the "corrupt Congress and DMK from continuing in power".
Rangasamy is seeking election from two segments Indira Nagar and Kadirkamam carved out of Thatanchavady, his pocket borough in all the polls he had contested successively since 1991. This is the first time a contestant will seek election from two seats in Puducherry. Three of the six ministers and Speaker R Radhakrishnan are facing challenge from AINRC nominees in their constituencies.
Revenue minister Malladi Krishna Rao is contesting against a AIADMK nominee in Yanam, an enclave of the union territory in Andhra Pradesh. The total voter strength in Puducherry has shot up to 8,10,635 after updating of the voters list. Women voters, with a strength of 4,19,890, outnumber men whose strength is 3,90,740. In addition, there are five voters coming under 'others' category.
In Puducherry alone, which has has 23 of the total 30 seats in the union territory, there are 6,18,375 voters. The Karaikal region with five constituencies, has a total voters strength of 1,32,840. Mahe and Yanam regions, which have one segment each, have 28,484 and 30,936 voters respectively.