Vaidyalingam to be Puducherry chief minister Sep 1 (Lead, Changing dateline)

August 28th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Puducherry, Aug 28 (IANS) Following the directive of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, embattled Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy Thursday submitted his resignation to Lt. Gov. Govind Singh Gujar. V. Vaidyalingam, minister for industries and power, is to be the new chief minister. Vaidyalingam had staked his claim to forming the government and would be sworn in Sep 1 as chief minister of the union territory, All India Congress Committee observer K.B. Krishnamurthy told reporters here Thursday evening.

Vaidyalingam handed over letters of support from 22 legislators belonging to the Congress, DMK, PMK and three independents to the Lt. Governor. He was earlier unanimously elected leader by the Congress Legislature Party, Krishnamurthy told reporters.

Assembly Speaker R. Radhakrishnan, one of the hopefuls for the post who had not attended Monday’s meeting, was present Thursday.

Sources close to Radhakrishnan indicated that he may be allowed to continue in the post.

Congress sources also said that the present ministerial incumbents would continue and former minister A. Namassivayam may be inducted during the swearing in.

Though MLAs of the DMK were not present during the meeting, their letters of support have been submitted to the Lt. Governor, Krishnamurthy said.

Rangasamy was removed following fortnight-long protests led by a majority of party legislators against his leadership.

Earlier Vaidyalingam told IANS on phone from Puducherry that he was happy over his being elected as leader of the Congress legislature party.

On Monday, a majority of legislators of the ruling Congress had expressed their wish to remove Rangasamy during separate meetings with senior party leader Vayalar Ravi, who announced that Sonia Gandhi had been empowered to take a decision on the matter.

Party position in the Puducherry assembly: Congress 10; DMK 7, AIADMK 3; Puducherry Munnetra Congress 3, Independents 3, Communist Party of India 1; MDMK 1; nominated - 3 (one each belonging to Congress, CPI and PMK).

A majority of the Congress legislators had demanded the removal of Rangasamy.

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