Stepping up pressure, the DMK on Sunday demanded the nullification of the proceedings of Saturday’s special session of the Tamil Nadu assembly, during which chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami breezed through the trust vote after the opposition was evicted.
DMK working president MK Stalin described the speaker’s conduct and the trust vote as “undemocratic and unconstitutional,” and urged governor C Vidyasagar Rao to declare it null and void as the custodian of the Constitution.
“This is unethical and unlawful. This is a mockery of democracy and a severe blow to the Constitution. The speaker was not mindful of his neutral position and he was bent upon favouring one faction of the ruling party, with ulterior motive,” Stalin said in a memorandum submitted to the governor.
In this connection, he recalled a similar situation three decades ago, when, during a confidence motion only two factions of the ruling party were present.
“Then in 1988, the governor had declared the trust vote invalid and void,” Stalin said, urging governor Rao to treat Saturday’s trust vote by Palaniswami similarly.
Stalin also highlighted the fact that the ruling party MLAs were kept hostage at a seaside resort in Koovathur, 70 km from Chennai, and alleged that “they were brought to the assembly under tight security and they appeared to be under constant threat”.
He stressed that extraordinary police presence was mobilised around the assembly complex to give an impression of a war-like situation and that a thick atmosphere of terror was prevailing.
“When l was going in my vehicle to attend the session, police intercepted and made a thorough check, suspecting something unlawful was hidden, without paying heed to my protest, which is totally unethical. This was done deliberately and intentionally, completely ignoring my official status as the Leader of Opposition,” Stalin said to reinforce the charge of the DMK that there seemed to be undue pressure mounted on the MLAs of AIADMK.
“When the confidence motion was moved, I rose and demanded to conduct secret voting to enable the MLAs to cast their vote in a fair and free manner following their conscience. As the speaker did not respond to my request and appeared to be very eager to go ahead speedily with open voting, there was a protest by the members of the DMK. As the protest persisted, the speaker adjourned the House.
“Other opposition parties also demanded secret voting. When the House met again, the protest continued as the Speaker tried again to carry out open voting,” the leader of opposition in TN assembly said.
“Finding no other way out to register our protest, we resorted to peaceful dharna inside the house,” Stalin said, skirting the fact that the DMK MLAs’ behaviour was unruly and violent during which they attacked the speaker.
Stalin went on to allege that the speaker ordered expulsion of all the DMK members without following the laid down procedures.
“Police entered the house presumably on instructions given in advance by the Speaker. Police and the assembly guards forcibly evicted us from the house and in this process many of us sustained bleeding injuries. The other opposition parties staged a walk-out strongly protesting against the action of the speaker,” Stalin said.
The DMK leader alleged that the speaker conducted the proceedings as per a pre-conceived design and ignored the rule that if the House was adjourned after the motion of confidence was moved, the motion lapsed.
“Soon after the entire opposition was out of the house, either because of expulsion or by way of walkout, for which moment the speaker apparently seemed to been waiting, he had hurriedly conducted open voting and decided in favour of the motion. This act of the speaker is unconstitutional and highly undemocratic,” the DMK leader said.
“On such a very important motion, which has in it the fate of the state for more than four years, the speaker conducted the voting without any opposition member present in the house. The speaker has allowed a choice between two factions of one political party i.e. AIADMK, similar to an election of office bearers for which contest is between two factions of the party,” he said.