Will AIADMK govt survive in TN political crisis?

Will AIADMK govt survive in TN political crisis?

Edappadi K Palaniswami. PTI file photo

Will the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, led by Edappadi K Palaniswami survive or will the state plunge into a political crisis yet again?

The question is set to be answered on the afternoon of May 23, when the votes polled in 22 Assembly constituencies that went to bypolls are set to be counted.

The AIADMK government, which is surviving on a wafer-thin majority, needs to win at least five Assembly constituencies to continue in power. The Opposition DMK will have to emerge victorious in 21 of the 22 seats that are going to bypolls if it has to snatch power from its arch-rival, with the latter looking highly unlikely.  

If either of the above scenarios don't pan out, it could lead to a hung Assembly, where no political party has the required number to form a government. Then, there is a high possibility of the government losing the majority and the political action then shifting to resorts, either within or even outside Tamil Nadu.

AIADMK, whose strength in the house is 114, including the Speaker, needs five more seats to reach the magic number of 118. Even then, this might not be enough given that at least three MLAs now owe allegiance to rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran and one legislator, who belongs to a different party but won on the party symbol of ‘Two Leaves’, is siding with the DMK.

The government can expect smooth sailing only if it wins anywhere between five and 10 seats in the bypolls. And this time, Speaker P Dhanapal may not be able to disqualify rebel MLAs and bring down the strength of the Assembly to ensure the survival of the government, since the Supreme Court has already struck his notice issued to three MLAs.

The 'resort politics' would be inevitable if candidates belonging to AMMK, led by Dhinakaran, win the polls – they can easily be poached since they will be considered independent MLAs, as their political party is yet to be registered.

Since the whip will not apply to the MLAs who win on the 'gift pack' symbol, the anti-defection law will not be applicable to them and hence, these MLAs will be vulnerable to AIADMK, given it has the political might and tacit support from the BJP.

Tamil Nadu witnessed 'resort politics', a new phenomenon for the state, twice in 2017 – in February, when the then chief minister O Panneerselvam rebelled against V K Sasikala and in September that year, when the Speaker disqualified 18 MLAs who sided with Dhinakaran.

MLAs were then lodged in resorts in Mahabalipuram, Puducherry and Kodagu in Karnataka to ensure that they are not poached by the other side.