Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswami won a dramatic trust vote in the assembly on Saturday after hours of ruckus and violence that saw legislators break furniture and shout slogans inside the House. But what was each party’s strategy during the crucial floor test? HT brings you an explainer:
DMK wanted secret voting. The opposition party expected that more AIADMK MLAs might jump ship and defeat the trust vote sought by chief minister E Palaniswami in the state assembly. In that event, Panneerselvam could stake claim to form the government but even he was unlikely to reach the magic number to become chief minister. The DMK strategy was driven by its hope that the split in the AIADMK would force the governor to impose President’s Rule in the state for a few months and eventually go for fresh elections.
The Congress, with 8 legislators in the 234-member House, went along with the DMK. The Congress is divided in two groups on the AIADMK issue. While Tamil Nadu Congress chief S 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 avoid fishing in troubled waters in the AIADMK camp. The Congress would also prefer fresh elections, which might give it and the DMK another opportunity to return to power.
AIADMK (Palaniswami faction)
Palaniswami faction was opposed to secret ballot because of apprehension that many MLAs might switch loyalty and defeat the trust vote. That would have put paid to his ambition to emerge as former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s political successor. Palaniswami was desperate to prove his majority. Winning the trust vote means that even sceptics and disgruntled MLAs will come around the winning side. Once firmly in saddle, Palaniswami will have enough time to consolidate his hold over the legislature party as also on the organisational front.
AIADMK (Panneerselvam faction)
Having launched an open rebellion against VK Sasikala, the trust vote was a big opportunity for him to mobilise anti-Sasikala elements in the party. Tripped by Palaniswami in the CM race, he is now left with the option of leading the breakaway group of the AIADMK or seeking political shelter in another party.