AIADMK merger fallout: Pressure mounts on Palaniswamy govt as Congress joins DMK to demand floor test

The six-month old Edappadi K Palaniswamy (EPS) government, which joined hands with O Panneerselvam faction, continues to face uncertainty in Tamil Nadu a day after 19 AIADMK MLAs expressed anguish over the merger and removal of VK Sasikala from the party.

Congress on Wednesday came out in support of Opposition DMK in requesting Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to direct Palaniswamy to prove his majority. This comes after DMK working president MK Stalin wrote a similar letter to the governor, ANI reported.

On Wednesday, AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of former deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran outside the resort where 19 rebel MLAs have been lodged since Tuesday.

The role of the Tamil Nadu governor has now achieved prominence since the 19 legislators loyal to Dhinakaran met Rao on Tuesday to withdraw their support from the chief minister. The MLAs reportedly told Rao that Palaniswamy had "forfeited" their confidence and that of the public, and urged him to "intervene and institute the constitutional process."

The rebel MLAs asserted that they were opposing Palaniswamy's action of making the 'betrayer' Panneerselvam deputy chief minister.

"You will have to wait and see how we are going to change the chief minister," Andipatti MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan was quoted as saying by The Hindu. However, he claimed that the rebel MLAs were not opposed to peace talks.

Meanwhile, Dhinakaran used his powers to remove several district functionaries and revenue minister RB Udayakumar from their party posts and appointed his supporters, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

Edappadi K Palaniswamy. PTI

File image of Edappadi K Palaniswamy. PTI

He expelled R Vaithilingam from the primary membership of the party on Tuesday after the Rajya Sabha MP announced steps to oust Sasikala from the post of general secretary.

Following the disciplinary action against Vaithilingam, clashes were reported in his hometown Thanjavur, reported The Times of India.

Vaithilingam remained unaffected, saying that Dhinakaran's decision would be "invalid" since his appointment itself had been challenged before the election commission. Dhinakaran is expected to address the media on Wednesday.

In the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs, excluding the Speaker. Late chief minister Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency seat is still vacant. According to the rules of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, 24 MLAs, which constitutes about 10 percent of the total strength of the House, are needed to move a no-confidence motion. This means the 19 MLAs are not enough to successfully demand a trust vote.

Demand for floor test

In a letter to Rao, Stalin said that "an unprecedented constitutional crisis" erupted after identical letters were given by 22 MLAs to the governor expressing lack of confidence in the chief minister. Citing a similar occasion when the governor of Karnataka had directed the then chief minister BS Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the House, he demanded an early floor test.

On Tuesday evening, the rebel MLAs were taken to a luxurious resort in the neighbouring Puducherry, similar to how over a hundred MLAs were herded in a Koovathur resort in February following the rebellion by then chief minister Panneerselvam. However, Selvan claimed that the MLAs were there "to take rest."

Sasikala's brother V Divakaran pitched Assembly speaker P Dhanapal's name for the chief minister's post, a move seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between senior leaders of the ruling establishment. He told reporters at Mannargudi that the Palaniswamy government has been reduced to a "minority" and lost the moral right to be in office.

Even though the merger of both the factions brought joy to the party workers, it disappointed the local leaders of OPS camp, with Semmalai not excluded from the Cabinet, reported The Hindu.

The former minister was the only ruling party MLA who supported OPS in Salem district. With the backing of 14 former MLAs, OPS had received major support from the district.

Given these developments, it is clear that the political stability the AIADMK intended to bring in the Tamil Nadu government was an illusion and the merger is yet to become an accepted reality.

Updated Date: Aug 23, 2017 14:55 PM

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