AIADMK on war mode to save govt

Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (L) with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami. PTI

The Madras High Court’s refusal to disqualify 11 MLAs, including Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, should have come as a respite for the AIADMK, but the verdict has caused unrest in the ruling party.

The AIADMK is expecting the much-awaited ruling in the case challenging disqualification of 18 legislators supporting rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran, nephew of V K Sasikala.

The government which has already plunged into minority in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly is now on war footing to wean away the 18 MLAs and ensure that there is no fresh cross over of legislators to the Sasikala faction.

Highly-placed sources in the AIADMK told DH that their efforts to break the TTV camp has so far come as a cropper since all of them were handpicked by Sasikala for contesting the 2016 Assembly elections.

Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam, Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani and other senior leaders have been assigned the task of keeping the current AIADMK Legislature Party intact and hold talks with the disqualified MLAs.

Why disqualified?

The MLAs were disqualified after they expressed “no confidence” in Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami following his action of allowing the merger with the camp led by Pannerselvam, who joined his government as deputy chief minister. Later, the legislators were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal for going against the “party whip.”

The 11 MLAs voted against Palaniswami government in February 2017 but the High Court rejected pleas from DMK and some of the disqualified MLAs seeking their scalp. 

Sources said the 18 MLAs case could prove very tricky for the party since the government would have problems whichever way the case goes.

Floor test or Bypolls?

“If the disqualification is struck down, the government might be forced to prove its strength on the floor of the House. If the disqualification is upheld, then the 18 seats would go for bypolls which would be very difficult for the government to face,” a senior leader told DH.

The latest effort to poach the MLAs began immediately after the High Court verdict on the OPS case, another leader said, adding that the government top brass is neither prepared to face floor test nor by-polls.

Jump the ship

“Since the party is not very confident of facing either of the two options, it was decided to work on the MLAs to jump the ship. So far, the efforts have not fructified. But we are hopeful,” another leader said.

Cross-over of the MLAs supporting Dhinakaran appears remote since he looks firmly in his saddle, especially after Sasikala putting her weight behind him rather than supporting her brother V K Dhivaharan, who has revived his political intentions, the sources said.

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AIADMK on war mode to save govt

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