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AIADMK MLAs disqualified: Speaker P Dhanapal meets Rajnath Singh, may also speak with President Kovind later

Speaker of the Tamil Nadu state Assembly, P Dhanapal, who started a political storm on Monday morning by disqualifying 18 MLAs loyal to the ousted AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, met with home minister Rajnath Singh. Dhanapal will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind later on Monday evening, as he plans for the political fallout that is likely to emerge with the ousted AIADMK MLAs moving court challenging his decision.

 AIADMK MLAs disqualified: Speaker P Dhanapal meets Rajnath Singh, may also speak with President Kovind later

File image of TTV Dhinakaran. Courtesy: Facebook

The 18 MLAs, including Thanga Tamilselvan, Senthil Balaji, P Vetrivel and K Mariappan, had moved the Madras High Court.

Dhanapal's meeting with Rajnath and Kovind may be the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker preparing for the eventuality of the court setting aside the decision.

The AIADMK has 134 MLAs in the 235-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, while the main Opposition party DMK has 89 MLAs. But with 18 legislators being disqualified, the AIADMK's strength has gone down to just 116.

There were fears that if a floor test was ordered and the Dhinakaran camp decided to support DMK, it may have been enough to topple the E Palaniswamy government.

The Madras High Court had earlier held that a floor test cannot be held before 20 September, following petitions filed by Stalin and Dhinakaran loyalist, MLA P Vetrivel.

After the Speaker's decision to disqualify AIADMK MLAs, Dhinakaran had lashed out at Dhanapal, saying that the AIADMK didn't have the numbers to cross the magic number of 117 required to achieve a simple majority in the House, and was using the disqualification route to escape a tricky situation.

DMK working president MK Stalin has also taken issue with the disqualification, saying "it's not right and has been done deliberately to reduce the majority of the house".

The AIADMK has been embroiled in a political drama of shifting loyalties after the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016. First, O Pannerselvam (now an ally of Palaniswamy and part of the government) was appointed the chief minister of the state, then he was expelled from the party following differences with then newly-appointed party general secretary VK Sasikala.

OPS had then formed a rebel group with AIADMK split into a Sasikala-led faction (Chinamma camp) with support from a majority of the MLAs and OPS-led group (Amma camp) formed mainly of party MPs.

However, after Sasikala was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, the Sasikala-led faction of AIADMK had appointed E Palaniswamy as the CM with Dhinakaran as in-charge of the party affairs. Over the course of next few months, Tamil Nadu witnessed series of dramas with the Sasikala-led faction trying to retain control of the party while OPS camp trying to win the support of their former colleagues and Jayalalithaa loyalists and most importantly Palaniswamy.

Soon differences began to emerge between Dhinakaran-loyalists and Palaniswamy loyalists within the ruling AIADMK with Dhinakaran even attempting to bribe Election Commission officials to gain control of party symbol. The fallout of this resulted in Pannerselvam and Palaniswamy joining hands to and merging the two groups of the party to form a unified AIADMK.

However, the union didn't go well with Dhinakaran or his loyal MLAs, who now form the rebel group of AIADMK. Both the groups are now claiming legal control over AIADMK, and the ongoing tussle is a part of each trying to exert control over the party.

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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2017 17:06:10 IST

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