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EPS camp claims majority after AIADMK meet, but Dinakaran and Stalin not convinced 

Although Palanisami has supposedly managed to shore up his strength to 111 MLAs, his government is still short of six legislators to achieve the magic figure of 117 in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly.

tamil nadu Updated: Sep 05, 2017 18:53 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
E Palanisami,Tamil Nadu,AIADMK
TTV Dinakaran’s ouster was a pre-requisite for the merger of the Palanisami-Panneerselvam factions recently. (PTI photo)

The war raging in the AIADMK intensified on Tuesday, with rebel MLAs from the TTV Dinakaran camp declaring that chief minister Edapaddi Palanisami does not have the support required to continue in power.

Dinakaran was sacked from the post of the party’s deputy general secretary on August 10 as part of a strategy to unify the Palanisami faction with that of former chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Although Palanisami has supposedly managed to shore up his strength to 111 MLAs, his government is still short of six legislators to achieve the magic figure of 117 in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly.

As many as 109 MLAs attended a party meeting called by the chief minister on Tuesday, while two excused themselves because they were otherwise indisposed. The attendance at this gathering, held ahead of the September 12 general council meeting, was significantly higher than a previous one on August 28 that saw only 70 MLAs drop by.

A visibly cheerful D Jayakumar, the state fisheries minister, told mediapersons that Palanisami enjoys the support of 111 MLAs – as seen from the attendance at the meet. “Moreover, as many as nine members from the Dinakaran camp are in touch with us. We will win any trust vote, if needed, very comfortably,” he said.

According to Jayakumar, all the MLAs who attended Tuesday’s meet reposed faith in Palanisami’s leadership. “They unanimously resolved to back the decisions taken by the chief minister and the co-convenor of the AIADMK coordination panel,” he said.

However, the minister’s claims were rubbished by P Vetrivel – a senior leader close to Dinakaran. “All our 19 MLAs are here with us,” he said.

Thanga Tamil Selvan, another MLA from the Dinakaran camp, dared Jayakumar to disclose the names of the nine legislators who have supposedly promised their support to Palanisami. Dismissing the September 12 general council meeting called by the ruling camp, he said: “Only Dinakaran has the powers to call a meeting. Everything they do and all the decisions they take are illegal and thereby unacceptable.”

Tamil Selvan also rejected Jayakumar’s claims that the Palanisami faction is capable of proving its majority in the state assembly. “The government has no majority. How can we give the party and the government to EPS when he is such a cheat?” he asked.

The dissident AIADMK MLAs, who had been served notice by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal, on a plea from Chief Government Whip S Rajendran seeking their disqualification, sought 15 more days for their individual appearance.

Dinakaran loyalists Thangatamilselvan and P Vetrivel met officials at the Speaker’s office and presented a request in this regard.

Thangatamilselvan later told reporters that the MLAs received another communication recently calling for their individual appearance on September 7 over the issue. “We need some clarification. So we informed we can’t come on September 7 and told them we need 15 days time,” he said.

Seeking to crack down on the 19 pro-Dhinakaran AIADMK MLAs, Rajendran had sought their disqualification for alleged anti-party activities and Dhanapal had issued notice to the MLAs that day itself.

Meanwhile, the opposition DMK on Tuesday busied itself in making hay as the two factions clashed. “If only 109 MLAs were present at the meeting, it is clear that the government does not enjoy a majority. The governor must hold a trial of strength immediately. Any delay would result in horse trading,” party working president MK Stalin told mediapersons on Tuesday.

A decision on former party head VK Sasikala’s ouster is likely to be taken at the AIADMK’s general council meeting on September 12.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Sep 05, 2017 18:07 IST