Puducherry | PTI: Smarting from the fall of its government here last month, Congress may be keen to put up a good show in the April 6 Assembly polls here, but it certainly seems to be in some dilemma over contesting from Yanam as it has not fielded anyone, with nominations drawing to a close.

A stronghold of ex-Congress leader and former minister Malladi Krishna Rao, Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh and 900 km away from the small city, will see former chief minister and AINRC founder N Rangasamy testing his fortunes from here this time, besides Thattanchavady.

Congress leaders are tight-lipped over skipping the segment, but it is widely believed that the party did not want to risk a candidate from the turf of Rao, who has thrown his weight behind Rangasamy.

Earlier, the Congresswas earmarked 15 of the total 30 assembly segments to field its candidates from, while 13 seats had been set apart for the DMK, its alliance partner.

The remaining two seats had been allotted to allies VCK and the CPI.

However, the Congress fielded candidates from 14 segments and left Yanam out. With no big names in the fray, it could be a virtual walk over for Rangasamy.

Rao had even assured Rangasamy that the latter need not visit the Constituency as he would take care of campaign and other poll relative activities.

Rao has been representing Yanam since 1996 and was the Health Minister in the V Narayansasamy government which fell on February 22 ahead of a trust vote while being reduced to a minority.

Though Rao did not seek re-election from Yanam, his home constituency, he has extended support to Rangasamy.He had quit as MLA and Minister in February and shifted his allegiance to the AINRC.

Rao started wooing voters in Yanam even before Rangasamy filed nomination and had unequivocally told the people at a meeting recently that the AINRC leader, heading the NDA here, would be chief minister of Puducherry.

NDA's other constituents here are the BJP and AIADMK.

Rao was recently felicitated for his long, unbroken stint as a member of the legislative assembly.

However, his shifting allegiance to AINRC during the run up to the elections and skipping the electoral battle came as a surprise to many.

Rangasamy had in 2011 contested from Indira Nagar and Kadirkamam segments in Puducherry and retained the latter though he emerged victorious from both seats.

His nephew Tamilselvane successfully contested the by election in IndiraNagar the same year.

With the exit of a good number of Congress legislators and a couple of Ministers, including A Namassivayam, the party is virtually divested of key persons to face the electoral battle.

The party facing the elections from 15 seats also has not gone down well with the rank and file as it fielded nominees from 21 constituencies in the 2016 polls.

On the other hand, the DMK, which contested from nine segments in the previous poll, has been given 13 seats.

Puducherry has been considered by and large a pocket borough for Congress, but the party this time cannot take the situation for granted, political observers say.

The present election is thus crucial and a litmus test for the grand old party in this former French colony.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma