1964 Pondicherry Legislative Assembly election
Elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Indian Union Territory of Pondicherry took place on 23 August 1964. These were the first Legislative Assembly elections after the formation of the new Union Territory. The elections marked the end of the rule of Edouard Goubert in Pondicherry.
The outgoing Legislative Assembly had 39 members (out of whom 25 belonged to the Indian National Congress, 11 to the People's Front, 1 to the Praja Socialist Party and 2 independents). Now 30 members would be elected through direct suffrage, under the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963. Five seats were reserved for Scheduled Castes.
In the run-up to the election, there was dissent within the local unit of the Indian National Congress over the nomination of candidates. Until these polls Édouard Goubert had maintained control over the local Congress Party apparatus. Goubert had been pro-colonialist who had switched sides just as French power ended in Pondicherry. He had survived politically through political intrigues and maintaining the image that he could keep the communists from seizing power in the Union Territory. Now a group led by V. Venkatasubha Reddiar challenged his hegemony. Reddiar had been the Minister of Planning in the Pondicherry cabinet since 1954, and enjoyed the support by a sector of contractors and bootleggers. K. Kamaraj, the president of the Congress Party in the Madras State, was called on to heal the split. The Madras State Minister for Industries R. Venkataraman (acting on behalf of the All India Congress Committee) was assigned the task to ensure that the party was reunited for the polls. The AICC wholeheartedly sided with Reddiar. Effectively Goubert's group was marginalised in the process. The Congress Party contested all 30 seat in the election. However, Goubert organised some of his sympathizers to contest as independents. In total there were 38 independent candidates, including Goubert's followers.
Apart from the intra-Congress conflict, the main contender was the communist-led People's Front. The People's Front contested 17 out of the 30 seats.
The Congress Party candidates obtained 91,338 votes (54.3%), the People's Front 30,495 votes (18.2%) and independents gathered 46,218 votes (27.58%). One candidate, Kamishetty Sri Parasurama Vara Prasada Rao Naidu (Congress), was elected unopposed from the Yanam constituency. 17 out of the 22 Congress candidates elected belonged to the Reddiar group, the remaining five were part of the Goubert group. Another three pro-Goubert independents were elected.
Reddiar himself won the Nettapacom seat with 4,965 votes (83.54% of the votes in the constituency). Goubert won the Raj Nivas seat, with 2,722 votes (78.47%) A fourth independent (unaffiliated with Goubert) also emerged victorious. Four People's Front candidates were elected, a result which was seen as a backlash for the communists. Amongst the elected People's Front members was V. Subbiah, who won the Modeliarpeth seat with 3,878 votes (51.80%).
New assembly and cabinet
After the election the Congress Party formed a four-member cabinet led by Reddiar. Likewise Reddiar was elected, unanimously, as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the new assembly.
- Rahman, S. A. The Beautiful India. Pondicherry. New Delhi: Reference Press, 2006. pp. 138–139
- Das, Manoj. Pondicherry. New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1976. p. 20
- Seminar on State Politics in India, Iqbal Narain, D. B. Mathur, and Sushil Kumar. State Politics in India. Meerut: Meenakshi Prakashan, 1967. pp. 534–535
- Report of the General Secretary. Indian National Congress. All India Congress Committee. 1965. p. 59
- Current Events Year Book. "Current Events" Publication Dept., 1966. p. 386
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- Election Commission of India. STATISTICAL REPORT ON GENERAL ELECTION, 1964 TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF PONDICHERRY