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Tamil Nadu floor test: CM Palaniswami wins, now he has mountains to climb

Even if chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami scrapes through floor test in Tamil Nadu assembly on Saturday, which could turn into as exciting as a T20 match if the entire house votes, there are challenges aplenty for him.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2017 16:07 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Tamil Nadu,AIADMK,Palaniswami
Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami after taking the oath of secrecy administered by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao during the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday. (PTI)

With chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami scraping through a floor test in Tamil Nadu assembly on Saturday, there are challenges aplenty for him.

With 122 MLAs firmly in his grip, satisfying governor C Vidyasagar Rao was easier. But winning trust vote could be a tad trickier. Amid reports of few MLAs likely to revolt like AIADMK MLA and former DGP R Nataraj did on Friday morning, Palaniswami cancelled his visit to Bengaluru to call on party general secretary lodged in Parapparana Agrahara Central Jail.

The chief minister rushed to the Golden Bay resort to quell a potential rebellion and pacify the restive MLAs. It indicates that even if he won the trust vote, his government would be at the mercy of few MLAs.

Pleasing all the 122 MLAs is the biggest challenge as Palaniswami is already facing a threat from O Panneerselvam’s camp and a resurgent DMK. Few reports indicated that DMK might either abstain or walk out of the house and if it happens, then Palaniswami is home and dry without a hassle.

But more important than the floor test, the Palaniswami government has to win the public trust and legitimacy it lacks so badly. It was evident from the public reaction to the swearing-in of his government in Chennai on Thursday. The common man showed his anger and resentment against the MLAs and booed them as they were emerging out of the resort to visit Raj Bhavan on Thursday.

Moreover, he is also fighting the public perception that he is a puppet chief minister, controlled by Sasikala from jail and by her nephew TT V Dinakaran, the AIADMK deputy general secretary.

The wafer thin majority that Palaniswami would enjoy, of just about seven MLAs, is something that will pose a constant challenge to him and the longevity of his government. Except, the fear of facing people in a fresh election from his own MLAs is his best bet, said political analyst Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University.

“But the anger against Sasikala and her puppet is cutting across caste and region barriers,” said political analyst Sumanth C Raman.

Longevity is not just the cause for concern. There are bigger challenges waiting for Palaniswami as he gets down to business, if he passes the floor test that is. First and foremost is that he will have to tackle the agrarian crisis that got aggravated because of the worst drought in over 100 years.

Then he will have to match up to the success notched by OPS on the Jallikattu issue by getting the Centre to exempt Tamil Nadu students from the NEET examination (common entrance examination for medical colleges), which can only be done through the active support of the central government. Palaniswami will have to work hard to win the trust and build a working relationship with the central government, but with nearly 50 MPs in its kitty, as also the AIADMK MLAs, the ruling BJP at the Centre may not disturb the Tamil Nadu government till the Presidential and vice-presidential elections are gone through, in some six months’ time.

Filling in the shoes of Amma and building upon Brand Amma will be his main mission as it would help him win popularity among the masses.

But more important test of Palaniswami government and the AIADMK led by Sasikala will be the local body polls that could be held very soon.

(This copy was updated after Palaniswami won the floor test)

First Published: Feb 18, 2017 08:36 IST