Chennai: Senior Congress leader and former Union minister V. Narayanasamy on Monday took charge as chief minister of Puducherry, the only place where the party secured a win in the recent legislative assembly elections.

The choice of Narayansamy, who did not contest elections, as the chief minister is not without controversy as a section of the party leadership feels that an elected member would have been a better choice and Narayanswamy should have continued handling the north eastern states for the party’s central unit.

Narayansamy’s cabinet has five ministers, all of them Congress MLAs who have held ministries earlier. These include A.Namassivayam, Malladi Krishna Rao, Shah Jahan, M. Kandasamy and R. Kamalakannan.

The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues were sworn in by Kiran Bedi, who took charge as Lieutenant Governor (LG) of the Union Territory last week.

Narayanasamy will be only the second person in the Union Territory, after P.Shanmugam, to become chief minister without contesting elections.

Protests broke out within the party in Puducherry, after Narayanasamy was announced as the chief minister, a week ago. Former chief minister V. Vaithilingam and Puducherry Congress chief Namachivayam were also in the race for the chief minister’s post.

“It is true that there was unrest initially. Some had wished Namasivayam to bag the chief minister seat. But we were able take a decision smoothly and we believe this is definitely going to be good for Puducherry as well as the party," a senior party leader from the Union Territory said, requesting anonymity.

The Congress had earlier faced crisis in Puducherry when N. Rangaswamy resigned from the party in 2011, three months ahead of the assembly election and formed the AINRC. His party eventually won 15 out of the 17 seats it contested and formed the government with the support of an independent MLA.

69-year-old Narayanasamy had served as minister of state during the second UPA government and was the MoS parliamentary affairs in UPA-I.

Narayanasamy was criticised for his inefficient handling of the party’s internal crisis in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya. He will now have to seek election within six months to the 30-member legislature in a bypoll.

In an interview with NDTV, Narayansamy on Monday denied reports of any disquiet: “Nothing wrong in a non-MLA becoming chief minister. This is no insult to people’s mandate as there’s a constitutional provision. We all would work as a team."

Sumanth Raman, a political analyst from Chennai said: “Irrespective of the fact that Rangasamy, the former chief minister was a Congress man for decades, the party faced challenges when he broke away to start AINRC. This would have pushed the high command to go for someone who is totally loyal."

An anti-incumbency feeling against the ruling AINRC worked in the favour of the Congress-DMK alliance. The combine won with a simple majority of 17 of the total 30 seats and AINRC could manage only eight. The AIADMK won four seats. The ruling alliance now has a margin of just one seat.

“Narayanasamy is an experienced hand. But having said that, they have a very narrow majority with 17 seats (Congress-DMK alliance) in a house of 30. It is going to be a tight-rope walk and we will have to wait and watch on how stable the government is going to be," said Raman.

“There were factions in the party who were against Narayanasamy. There were protests initially in the party by Namasivayam supporters and then they died down after Namasivayam interfered. So, we will have to wait and see how stable the government is going to be," he added.

“Also another important factor for a Union Territory is the relationship between the chief minister and the lieutenant governor. How proactively will Kiran Bedi be is another thing, that we will have to look out for," said Raman.

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