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Friday, May 18, 2001

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CLP leader choice restricted to elected members in Pondy

By S. Nadarajan

PONDICHERRY, MAY 17. There are indications that the choice of the Congress Legislature Party leader is restricted to the elected members. There is little possibility of a non-member being preferred, though on the previous occasion, Mr. P. Shanmugham, then a non-member, was elected to head the Government, for there are differences between the previous situation and the present one.

Mr. Shanmugham became Chief Minister, only when the remaining period of office was one year. The Congress Ministry in alliance with TMC and with the outside support of the CPI and AIADMK came into being after the fall of the DMK-led Government in March last year and the DMK regime had, by then, completed four years.

But, the present Assembly has got a complete five-year term. Hence, there is no possibility of an outsider becoming Chief Minister.

The Karaikal region has never been represented at the `number one' position in the Cabinet though sporadically Ministerial posts were given to the region in the past. Now out of five segments in Karaikal, which it contested, the Congress won four.

Mr. A. V. Subramanian, the Speaker, has also emerged as a contender for the Chief Ministership.

Mr. V. Vaithilingam elected from Nettapakkam in and Mr. N. Rangaswamy from Thattanchavady are also in the race. In the outgoing Ministry, Mr. Vaithilingam was not given any position, while Mr. Rangaswamy was Tourism Minister.

Mr. Shanmugham hails from Karaikal, but he represented the Yanam region. Hence if he became Chief Minister, it should be taken only as a representation for Yanam region.

It is not clear yet who commands influence among the party legislators - Mr. Vaithilingam or Mr. Rangaswamy.

The AIADMK support has been obtained after Mr. Shanmughm sought it. With the DMK being a common adversary for the Congress and the AIADMK, the support of the three members belonging to the AIADMK is a logical development for the Congress to avoid crisis in forming Ministry to keep the DMK out.

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