DMK working president MK Stalin met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday, days after chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami won a turbulent trust vote in the Tamil Nadu assembly.
Described as a courtesy call by Congress leaders, Stalin discussed with the Gandhis his future strategy vis-à-vis the new government in the state under Palaniswami — a loyalist of jailed AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala.
DMK leaders Tiruchi Siva, TKS Elangovan, Durai Murugan, RS Bharathi apart from Tamil Nadu Congress chief S Thirunavukarasar and general secretary in-charge Mukul Wasnik were also present.
The meeting assumes significance in the wake of political turmoil in the state following the revolt in the ruling AIADMK after the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa last December.
The Congress had stood by the DMK in its decision to seek the vote of confidence through secret ballot.
The DMK sought voting in secrecy as it expected some AIADMK legislators to jump the ship and defeat the trust vote. In that event, former chief minister O Panneerselvam could have staked claim to form the government.
The DMK strategy was driven by its hope that a split in the AIADMK would force the governor to bring the state under President’s rule for a few months and eventually lead to fresh elections.
The best scenario for the DMK is fresh polls at a juncture when the AIADMK is deeply divided.
The Congress sided with the DMK as it would not take any step to antagonise its trusted ally.
The party is split on the AIADMK issue. While Thirunavukkarasar and his loyalists support the Sasikala faction, former finance minister P Chidambaram and many ex-state unit chiefs such as EVKS Elangovan and KV Thangkabalu wanted the Congress to keep away from the AIADMK’s internal crisis.
The worry for the Congress is the growing BJP interest in the state politics. It also favours fresh polls at this juncture.
Soon after his arrival in the national capital on Thursday, Stalin met President Pranab Mukherjee and urged him to annul the February 18 vote of confidence and direct governor C Vidyasagar Rao to order a fresh floor test through secret ballot.
Palaniswami won the trust vote by 122:11, after en masse eviction of DMK legislators.
“After throwing all 89 DMK MLAs out, a confidence vote was held amid unprecedented violence. We have apprised the President about it and the way in which the assembly speaker conducted the proceedings in favour of the ruling party,” Stalin said after the meeting.
“In Tamil Nadu, benami rule by criminal Sasikala has been established.”
As examples, he cited Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand where trust votes in the past had been sought through secret ballot.
Stalin had requested speaker P Dhanapal to provide him with the unedited footage of the February 18 proceedings to submit them before the Madras high court.
The court directed the DMK on Wednesday to produce video clippings or any other recordings to substantiate its claim that the trust vote held that day was by “contravening” the rules of the assembly.
The DMK had filed a petition in the court, seeking direction to the authorities to annul the speaker’s decision to accept the trust vote.
It had sought a fresh vote through secret ballot under a monitoring committee, comprising the state chief secretary, principal secretary to the governor and an official from the Election Commission.