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Tamil Nadu Speaker allots O Panneerselvam’s seat to AIADMK’s R B Udhayakumar in House

The decision by the Speaker comes after the AIADMK made numerous representations to him to recognise Udhayakumar as the deputy leader of Opposition following Panneerselvam’s expulsion from the AIADMK in July 2022.
Last Updated : 14 February 2024, 11:10 IST

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M Appavu has recognised R B Udhayakumar as the deputy leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party and allotted him the seat occupied by expelled leader O Panneerselvam in the House, drawing curtains on an issue that lingered on for nearly 19 months.

The change in seat allocation came into effect on Wednesday. Udhayakumar will now be seated next to Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami while Panneerselvam has been moved to the second row.

The allotment of seats comes a day after Chief Minister M K Stalin appealed to the Speaker to consider Palaniswami’s demand that the seat next to him should be allotted to Udhayakumar instead of Panneerselvam.

Stalin’s intervention was significant as the Speaker continued to ignore AIADMK’s representation since July 2022.

The decision by the Speaker comes after the AIADMK made numerous representations to him to recognise Udhayakumar as the deputy leader of Opposition following Panneerselvam’s expulsion from the AIADMK in July 2022.

However, the Speaker didn’t take a call on the issue, leading to OPS continuing to sit next to EPS in the Assembly, much to the discomfiture of the latter. The AIADMK had in the past taken objection to OPS being called as deputy leader of Opposition and has opposed his representing the party in the Assembly.

With the Election Commission of India (ECI) recognising EPS as the general secretary of the AIADMK and ratifying the General Council meeting, the party urged the Speaker to accept the recommendation of the AIADMK Legislature Party and act accordingly.

Palaniswami, who was joint coordinator of the AIADMK, struck unannounced at his boss Panneerselvam, who was the coordinator as part of a BJP-brokered peace in 2017, in June 2022 and got the bye-laws of the party amended to bring back the general secretary post, which was reserved for Jayalalithaa at the July 11 General Council meeting.

After a legal battle lasting several months, the Supreme Court declared the General Council meeting that appointed Palaniswami as interim general secretary as valid, following which the AIADMK conducted organisational polls. Months later, the ECI followed suit by ratifying the decisions of the GC meeting.

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Published 14 February 2024, 11:10 IST

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