In the ongoing election season, all eyes are on the 'major' states of West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam. The elections in Puducherry have, arguably, remained in the background given the relatively small size of the Union territory's Assembly, which has only 30 elected seats.
But among the five states where polls are being held, Puducherry has seen the most political instability in recent years. The Congress-led government of chief minister V. Narayanasamy resigned in February, before its tenure was to end, as it lost its majority in the Assembly.
The fall of the Narayanasamy government was no aberration; Puducherry has a history of coalition governments and, consequently, political instability. Puducherry has had only one government, till date, where a single-party had a majority. This stands in stark contrast to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
In this article, THE WEEK attempts to piece together the results of all 13 Assembly elections held in Puducherry, since it became a Union territory in 1963.
First election: 1964
In the first election held in Puducherry (or Pondicherry as it was known then), the Congress won 21 of the 29 seats for which voting was held. The party secured a vote share of nearly 52 per cent in the 28 seats it contested. The main opposition to the then-dominant Congress was the People's Front, a Communist-backed outfit. The People's Front won four seats and had a vote share of 18.19 per cent.
Independents won the remaining five seats.
V. Venkatasubha Reddiar became chief minister after the election. However, in the traditions of the Congress then, political intrigue was common, and Reddiar had to make way for M.O.H. Farook in 1967. Reddiar was back in the chief minister's chair in 1968 for six months, before Puducherry had its first tryst with President's Rule, which lasted over six months.
2nd election: 1969
As was common across India in the late 1960s, the grip of the Congress started to weaken in Puducherry. The rise to power of the DMK in Tamil Nadu had its impact on Puducherry. And the era of coalition politics also started in Puducherry. In the 1969 election, the DMK won 15 of the 19 seats it contested, securing a total vote share of 33.7 per cent. The Congress's tally fell to 10 seats, though the party secured the largest vote share of 42.62 per cent. The DMK was able to form a government with the CPI, which won three seats. M.O.H Farook, who had by then defected to the DMK, became chief minister and was in power until January 1974, when President's Rule was imposed.
3rd election: 1974
Just like in 1969, political churning in Tamil Nadu affected Puducherry, this time in the form of the new AIADMK, which was formed in 1972 by cine icon-turned politician M.G. Ramachandran.
In the 1974 election, the AIADMK emerged the single-largest party, winning 12 seats with a vote share of 27 per cent. The DMK's tally plummeted to two seats and party had a vote share of 21 per cent. The Congress's seat tally dipped to seven seats and the party had a vote share of 15.95 per cent.
Subramanyan Ramaswamy of AIADMK became chief minister with support of the CPI, but he stayed in office for less than a month in March 1974, given the lack of a majority. This was followed by the longest spell of President's Rule in Puducherry, which lasted over three years.
4th election: 1977
The results of the 1977 Puducherry election, held after the lifting of the Emergency, were not substantially different from the 1974 election. The AIADMK was again the single-largest party, winning 14 seats, with a vote share of 30.96 per cent. The DMK's tally was three seats with a vote share of 13.49 per cent, and the Congress tally fell to two seats and the party had a vote share of 17 per cent.
The Janata Party performed impressively, winning seven seats and secured 26.45 per cent votes. Ramaswamy returned as chief minister for a period of 13 months. President's Rule was imposed in Puducherry from November 1978 to January 1980.
5th election: 1980
The 1980 election saw the return of the DMK to power and resurgence of the Congress, at the expense of the AIADMK. The DMK was the single-largest party, winning 14 seats with a vote share of over 27 per cent. The Congress won 10 seats with a vote share of nearly 24 per cent.
The two parties formed a coalition that continued in power for three years, with M.D.R. Ramachandran of DMK as chief minister. This was followed by a nearly two-year-long bout of President's Rule.
6th election: 1985
In the 1985 Puducherry Assembly election, the Congress became the single-largest party in the Union territory after two decades. The Congress won 15 seats with a vote share of 32.68 per cent. The DMK's tally fell to five seats, though its vote share was 29 per cent. The AIADMK secured six seats with a vote share of 15.75 per cent.
M.O.H. Farook, who was by now back in the Congress, was appointed chief minister and completed his five-year term.
7th election: 1990
The Puducherry election of 1990 was among the most fractious in terms of numbers. The Congress, which had a tie-up with the AIADMK, was the single-largest party, winning 11 seats, with a vote share of 25 per cent. The DMK secured nine seats and had a vote share of 24 per cent. The AIADMK secured three seats.
The DMK formed a coalition with support of the CPI (2 seats) and Janata Dal (4 seats). M.D.R. Ramachandran was back as chief minister, but he was in office for only a year, before President's Rule was imposed in March 1991.
8th election: 1991
The Congress retained its position as the single-largest party, winning 15 seats with a vote share of 30 per cent. The Congress continued its tie-up with the AIADMK, which won six of the 10 seats it contested and had a vote share of 17 per cent.
The DMK won four seats, though it had a vote share of 24 per cent. The sufficient number of seats for the Congress-AIADMK combine meant the era of President's Rule ended, briefly, in Puducherry.
V. Vaithilingam of the Congress became chief minister and continued in office for five years.
9th election: 1996
The Congress was the single-largest party in the 1996 election in Puducherry, winning nine seats with a vote share of 25 per cent.
The DMK, its principle adversary, won seven seats, with a vote share of nearly 23 per cent.
The DMK, along with its allies, the Tamil Maanila Congress (which won six seats) and CPI (two seats), formed the government with support of smaller parties. R. V. Janakiraman of DMK became chief minister.
Janakiraman's government fell in March 2000 after the Tamil Maanila Congress withdrew support. The Congress was back in power in Puducherry, with the Tamil Maanila Congress switching support to the grand old party. P. Shangmugam of the Congress became chief minister.
10th election: 2001
The Congress was the single-largest party in the 2001 Puducherry election, winning 11 seats, with a vote share of 22.78 per cent.
Its pre-poll ally, the Tamil Maanila Congress, won two seats. The Congress and Tamil Maanila Congress formed the government, with outside support of the AIADMK, which had won three seats.
The DMK won seven seats, with a vote share of 17 per cent.
Shanmugam returned as chief minister, but he was replaced within six months, in October 2001, by N. Rangaswamy.
11th election: 2006
The Congress went into the 2006 election with a pre-poll tie-up with the DMK. The Congress emerged the single-largest party winning 10 seats, with a vote share of 29.9 per cent. The DMK won seven seats with a vote share of 12.59 per cent. The Congress-DMK coalition thus staked claim to power.
Rangaswamy returned as chief minister. However, he was forced to resign in May 2008 given discontent among Congress legislators. V. Vaithilingam returned as chief minister.
Months before the next election in 2011, Rangaswamy formed the All India NR Congress, a breakaway faction of the Congress.
12th election: 2011
In an astonishing performance for a 'newborn' party, Rangaswamy's AINRC won 15 of the 17 seats it contested in the 2011 election, securing a vote share of 31.75 per cent.
Rangaswamy had a tie-up with the AIADMK, which won five seats. However, Rangaswamy abandoned the alliance with the AIADMK, forming a government with support of an independent MLA.
The Congress could only win seven seats, with a vote share of 26.53 per cent.
13th election: 2016
The Congress was back as the single-largest party in 2016, winning 15 seats, with a vote share of 30.60 per cent. Its ally, the DMK, won two seats.
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The AINRC won eight seats, with a vote share of 28 per cent.
V. Narayanasamy of the Congress became chief minister. His government fell in February, after four Congress MLAs quit. President's Rule was imposed in Puducherry after a gap of three decades.