DMK MLAs occupy Speakers’ chair, told to leave after ruckus stalls TN assembly

Legislators broke furniture and microphones and threw papers inside the Tamil Nadu assembly as a special session turned violent on Saturday, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House and walk out midway through a trust vote by chief minister EK Palaniswami.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2017 15:22 IST
KV Lakshamana and Aditya Iyer
KV Lakshamana and Aditya Iyer
Chennai, Hindustan Times
EK Palaniswami,Panneerselvam,Tamil Nadu assembly
Broken tables and torn papers inside the Tamil Nadu assembly on Saturday. (ANI/Twitter)

The Tamil Nadu assembly was adjourned twice within a couple of hours on Saturday as opposition DMK legislators broke furniture and microphones, threw papers and even occupied the Speaker’s chair in unprecedented violence during a trust vote by chief minister EK Palaniswami. (LIVE UPDATES)

Speaker P Dhanapal first adjourned the House till 1 pm and walked out in anger before returning, but was forced to stop proceedings again till 3 pm after marshals failed to evict DMK legislators.

The DMK appeared to have taken the spotlight away from Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam, who are locked in a bruising battle to take control of the ruling AIADMK and the government.

Though the numbers appeared to be in favour of the Palaniswami faction, Panneerselvam found support from the DMK, the Congress and the All India Muslim League.

Palaniswami, 62, formed the government on Thursday and was asked to prove his majority within fifteen days by governor C Vidyasagar Rao.

Pandemonium broke out after the Speaker rejected a demand by Panneerselvam and the DMK for a secret ballot.

TV visuals showed DMK legislators surrounding and shoving the Speaker before he gets up and leaves. One DMK MLA, identified as Kuka Selvam, was seen sitting on the Speaker’s chair briefly.

“They tore my shirt and insulted me,” Dhanpal told reporters outside the House.

The Speaker barred media into the assembly and even cut off power to a public announcement system at the press room inside the assembly.

Amid the chaos, one assembly staff was taken away in an ambulance after he felt dizzy and collapsed, reports said.

When the House resumed at 1pm, the Speaker evicted all DMK legislators for their unruly behaviour but they refused to leave, forcing him to adjourn the House again.

Rapid Action Force troops have been put on stand-by outside of assembly, ready to assist Speaker if DMK MLAs resist eviction again, sources said.

The Panneerselvam camp believes a secret ballot will enable fence-sitters in the Palaniswami camp to vote for the former chief minsiter.

Earlier, DMK working president MK Stalin said the AIADMK legislators should be allowed to meet the people in their respective constituencies and seek their views on who they want as their chief minister.

The demand was apparently based on the assumption that Palaniswami, propped up by disgraced AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, did not have the people’s approval.

“Are the AIADMK MLAs prisoners…they are paraded around like prisoners,” Stalin said.

When the House resumed at 1pm, the Speaker evicted all DMK legislators for their unruly behaviour but they refused to leave, forcing him to adjourn the House again.

Rapid Action Force troops have been put on stand-by outside of assembly, ready to assist Speaker if DMK MLAs resist eviction again, sources said.

The Panneerselvam camp believes a secret ballot will enable fence-sitters in the Palaniswami camp to vote for the former chief minsiter.

Earlier, DMK working president MK Stalin said the AIADMK legislators should be allowed to meet the people in their respective constituencies and seek their views on who they want as their chief minister.

The demand was apparently based on the assumption that Palaniswami, propped up by disgraced AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, did not have the people’s approval.

“Are the AIADMK MLAs prisoners…they are paraded around like prisoners,” Stalin said.

Palaniswami emerged as the chief minister choice after the Supreme Court sent Sasikala to jail in a 20-year-old corruption case. The apex court’s verdict also dashed her hopes of becoming the chief minister.

Panneerselvam made a dramatic, late-night appearance at Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai’s Marina Beach, mediated for more than half-an-hour and then told newsmen that he was forced to resign by Sasikala’s supporters.

Rao had given Palaniswami 15 days to prove his majority but the CM chose to take the floor test immediately – apparently over concerns that the lawmakers confined in a seafront resort were getting anxious.

First Published: Feb 18, 2017 12:50 IST