AIADMK merger: MLAs loyal to Dinakaran take shelter at sea-side resort as DMK demands floor test

Dinakaran’s move could prove problematic for the AIADMK, whose Palaniswami and Panneerselvam factions merged on Monday, as the party won’t reach the majority mark of 118 in the Tamil Nadu assembly without the 19 dissidents.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2017 00:03 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam‬,‪Edappadi K. Palaniswami‬,‪Tamil Nadu‬‬
Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami and his deptuy, O Panneerselvam, pay tributes at the memorial of J Jayalalithaa following a merger of their factions in Chennai on Monday. (PTI)

The opposition DMK on Tuesday demanded an immediate floor test in Tamil Nadu after a faction of the ruling party MLAs told the governor they had lost confidence in chief minister Edappadi Palanisami, adding to political uncertainty in the southern state.

Tamil Nadu is battling a political crisis since December following the death of all-powerful chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who was also the leader of the AIADMK.

The party’s two factions came together on Monday after O Pannerselvam was sworn as the deputy CM but a third group of 19 MLAs, loyal to sacked AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran, rose in revolt against the merger.

“We are going to initiate efforts to bring in a new chief minister with the help of our supporting MLAs,” Andipatti MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan said after meeting C Vidyasagar Rao.

By evening, Dinakaran had corralled his MLAs to a private sea-side resort in neighbouring Puducherry, which is ruled by the Congress.

Twenty rooms have been booked at The Windflower Resorts and Spa for the MLAs in a re-run of a drama the state witnessed in February.

The MLAS also urged the governor to “start the constitutional process” as the government was reduced to a “minority”, sources said.

Waiting in the wings, DMK working president MK Stalin wrote to Rao, saying the government was reduced to minority after 22 MLAs withdrew support. He, however, didn’t elaborate who were the 22 MLAs.

Stalin told media the governor ought to have ordered a floor test after the MLAs told him of their decision to “withdraw support”.

So far, the rebel MLAs are pushing for new chief minister and have not talked about withdrawing support to the government.

“It is ironic that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about waging war against corruption but was personally engaged in bringing together two corrupt politicians in Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said. The BJP is believed to have pushed the two factions to come together.

Asked if his party would bring a no-confidence motion, Stalin said a decision would be taken after a thorough discussion.

There could be more trouble for the Palanisami government. V Divakaran, the brother of jailed AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, claimed eight MLAs were with him and would write to governor withdrawing support to Palanisami.

The AIADMK has 134 MLAs in the 233-member House – a seat is lying vacant after the death of Jayalalithaa. The majority mark is down to 117 but if Dinakaran’s 19 MLAs are discounted, the ruling group will be reduced to 115.

Dinakaran, who is Sasikala’s nephew, and Divakaran feel betrayed by Palanisami as Panneerslevam faction had conditioned the merger on Sasikala being removed as party in-charge.

Palanisami, also known as EPS, was picked as the chief minister by Sasikala before was sent to jail in a corruption case. Panneerslevam, better known by his acronym OPS, rose in revolt against her after she ousted him as chief minister in February.

Dinkaran made his displeasure known by “throwing out” member of Parliament R Vaithialingam from AIADMK, for saying the party general council would be meeting soon to oust Sasikala.

Viathialingam questioned Dinakaran’s authority to sack him.

“Palanisami must explain as to how and why the traitor, OPS, who sought votes parading a dummy dead body of Amma in RK Nagar constituency for his faction candidate, has been given deputy chief ministership,” said Najil Sampath, a supporter of Dinakaran.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 12:25 IST