Ruling AIADMK reaches out to rebel MLAs

Ruling AIADMK reaches out to rebel MLAs

Anticipating the Madras High Court verdict on disqualification of 18 party MLAs, the ruling AIADMK has begun last-ditch efforts to wean back the rebels from the faction headed by T T V Dhinakaran.

Senior party functionaries have been tasked with the job of getting in touch with the legislators, who were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal in September last year, and enlist their support at "any cost."

The 18 MLAs were disqualified after they submitted a letter to Tamil Nadu governor expressing "no confidence" in Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami after he accommodated the then rebel O Panneerselvam into his cabinet and his supporters into the AIADMK. The Madras High Court has reserved orders on the petition filed by the MLAs against their disqualification by the Speaker.

Multiple sources from both sides confirmed to DH that backchannel talks to "positively work" on the disqualified MLAs has begun on several fronts to ensure that they are brought back to the AIADMK fold. "The stability of the government is important and the process to woo them back has begun notwithstanding the outcome of the judgement. Whatever the outcome may be, if we have the support of more MLAs, it is always better for us," a senior leader from the ruling camp said.

The AIADMK government plunged into minority status after its strength reduced to 116 from 134 with the disqualification of 18 legislators last year. The sources said instructions have been given to ministers and senior functionaries to form dedicated teams to talk to MLAs and enlist their support.

The teams have touched base with at least half a dozen MLAs have so far, but, according to sources, the response has been discouraging. However, the efforts to "convince them" would continue. "Someone from the ruling camp did contact me and sent feelers to join their faction. But since we have taken a decision to side with Chinamma (V K Sasikala), I told the emissary that I am not interested in any patch-up," a rebel MLA told DH.

Majority of the six people seem to have toed Dhinakaran's stand that any rapprochement can be thought of only if six people – Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and ministers D Jayakumar, S P Velumani, P Thangamani and KC Veeramani step down from their positions.

"The Sasikala family feels the aforesaid six people were responsible for the AIADMK being subservient to the BJP Government at the Centre and hence they should step aside if they really feel that the party should continue in power," another MLA said.

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