Governor Vidyasagar Rao’s decision to invite senior AIADMK leader E Palaniswami to form the next government in Tamil Nadu has made it near-impossible for O Panneerselvam to retain his seat.
Palaniswami took the oath of office on Thursday and has been asked to prove majority in the assembly within 15 days. Palaniswami, a four-time MLA from Salem, was handpicked by AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala to lead the party after her conviction by the Supreme Court in a 21-year-old corruption case.
As the floor test is only aimed to see if Palaniswami has a majority in the House, rebel AIADMK MPs will think twice before voting against him.
“As per the anti-defection law, if a few MLAs vote against their party in the trust vote, they may face expulsion from the House. Only if one-third or more MLAs defy the party line, they can be identified as a separate, new entity,” Afzal Amanullah, former parliamentary affairs secretary, said.
There were speculations on whether Rao will call for a normal floor test after offering one of the warring leaders—Panneerselvam or Palaniswami—the CM’s berth, or will first go for a composite floor test. The composite floor test is when the leader of the House or the chief minister would be decided on the floor of the house itself by secret votes of the MLAs.
As Rao opted for the former method, going by the claims of Palaniswami that he enjoys the support of the majority of the AIADMK MLAs, Panneerselvam’s chances are further bleak. In the composite floor test, Panneerselvam had better chances to woo MLAs as the lawmakers could vote secretly.
“The governor has given some time to Palaniswami. As of now, it looks like his OPS’ fate is sealed. He has only 8-10 MLAs while the Sasikala faction has 124 MLAs. This will put an end to the month-long drama over who’ll head the Tamil Nadu government,” CPI’s D Raja, a Rajya Sabha member from Tamil Nadu, said.
Experts also believe that the window of 15 days will only be utilised to woo or coerce the rebel MLAs to fall in line and vote for the Sasikala’s candidate, making things more difficult for Panneerselvam.
On Wednesday, finance minister Arun Jaitley dubbed the tussle in Tamil Nadu as an internal matter of the AIADMK, indicating that the BJP is not really bothered if Panneerselvam loses his chair.