AIADMK govt in crisis as 19 MLAs withdraw support to TN CM
Chennai: The opposition on Tuesday demanded a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly after the AIADMK group led by jailed General Secretary VK Sasikala's nephew TTV Dinakaran withdrew support to Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, reducing the government to a minority.
DMK Working President MK Stalin and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss urged Governor CV Rao to ask Palaniswami to prove his majority immediately in the House after the Dinakaran group said it wanted the Chief Minister changed.
Speaking to a television channel after meeting the Governor, Sasikala-Dinakaran loyalist Thangathamizh Chelvan said: "We have told the Governor that we will be taking steps to change Chief Minister Palaniswami."
The Dinakaran faction has been upset over its isolation in the ruling party whose two major factions, led by Palaniswami and former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, united a day earlier. The merged party also decided to sack Sasikala as General Secretary.
Nineteen legislators belonging to the Dinakaran faction met the Governor on Tuesday at Raj Bhavan. A source said all of them would now shift to Bengaluru or Puducherry to avoid poaching by the major AIADMK factions.
Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam reportedly went into a huddle after the Dinakaran group met the Governor. Details of their meeting or what they plan to do to counter the threat to the government were not immediately known.
Reacting to the developments, Stalin, Leader of Opposition in the House, told Rao in a letter: "Any inordinate delay in asking the Chief Minister to prove his majority will pave the way for continuance of an unconstitutional government and it will destabilise the democratic norms and precedents established in demonstrating the confidence of the House."
He said this will give room for "evil practice of horse-trading" which he added was seen when Palaniswami proved his majority earlier.
PMK's Ramadoss said the 19 legislators belonging to the Dinakaran group had told the Governor that they had withdrawn support to the government. And so, the AIADMK government had lost legislative majority.
The AIADMK had 134 members in the assembly (excluding the Speaker). Ramadoss said this number had now fallen to 115.
Ramadoss said three legislators belonging to other parties who fought the 2016 elections under the AIADMK's "two leaves" symbol had also expressed support to Dinakaran.
As a result, the total number of AIADMK legislators supporting the government was only 112, less than the number needed for a legislative majority, he said.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly has 234 seats. One seat is vacant due to the death of AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa.
The DMK has 89 members, the Congress 8 and the IUML-1. Speaker P. Dhanapal has only a casting vote in a tie. The DMK, Congress and IUML are in an alliance.
On Monday, the two major AIADMK factions finally came together after months of bickering between Palaniswami and Panneerselvam.
In a deal worked out between them, Palaniswami will continue to head the government while Panneerselvam -- who has been Chief Minister thrice -- will become the Deputy Chief Minister and also the numero uno in the united AIADMK.
A collective leadership drawn from the two factions will overrun the merged AIADMK.