The Congress-led government in Puducherry will undergo a floor test ordered by Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to prove its majority in the assembly on Monday, a day after Congress’ K Lakshminarayanan and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) legislator Venkatesan announced their resignations. Chief Minister V Narayanasamy-led government now has 12 MLAs and the opposition’s strength stood at 14 in the 33-member House.
Puducherry assembly now has seven vacancies, resulting in an effective strength of 26. The simple majority figure is 14 after Sunday’s resignations. Four Congress MLAs – including former ministers A Namassivayam and Malladi Krishna Rao – quit earlier, while another party legislator was disqualified for anti-party activities last year. The opposition had submitted a petition seeking a floor test to the lieutenant governor (L-G)’s office on February 18.
In the 33-member assembly, 30 are elected seats and three are nominated members belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Congress currently has nine MLAs. These include assembly speaker SP Sivakolundhi, who is not allowed to vote unless there is a tie.
The Congress has the support of two DMK MLAs and an Independent MLA from Mahe. The opposition has seven MLAs from the All Indian NR Congress, led by former chief minister N Rangasamy, and four from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). It also includes the BJP’s nominated members, who are allowed to vote.
The Congress-led government will fall short of the simple majority mark, with 11 votes, even if all ruling MLAs are present during the floor test. Assembly elections will be held in Puducherry later this year. The dates are yet to be announced.
What is a floor test?
A floor test is a motion initiated by the government seeking to know if it enjoys the confidence of the legislature. A confidence motion or a vote of confidence or a trust vote allows elected representatives to determine if the council of ministers commands the confidence of the House. The idea behind the trust vote is to uphold the political accountability of the elected government to the state legislature.
A no-confidence motion, or vote of no-confidence, or a no-trust vote, can be sought by any House member to express that they no longer have confidence in the government.
The chief minister, in the case of a coalition government, may be asked to move a vote of confidence and win a majority. The governor may call for a special session to see who has the majority to form the government in the absence of a clear majority when there is more than one individual staking claim to form the government.
Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote. The numbers are then considered based only on those MLAs who were present to vote.
How is a floor test conducted?
Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai SSoundararajan, who was handed additional charge of Puducherry last week, had last Thursday ordered a floor test to ascertain the majority of the ruling Congress-led coalition on the floor of the House. She said the floor test will be done by 5 pm on February 22 and that the voting shall take place by show of hands and the proceedings will be videographed.
“The floor test in pursuance of the above directions shall be concluded by 5 pm on 22.02.2021 and the proceedings shall not be adjourned/delayed or suspended at any cost,” the statement had said.
The chief minister moves a vote of confidence and proves that he has the majority support. The chief minister will have to resign if the floor test fails.