End This Farce in Tamil Nadu, Seek Peoples’ Mandate

The Manargudi mafia struck back with 19 MLAs loyal to Sasikala and Dhinakaran withdrawing support to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. It’s time to end this farce in Tamil Nadu and seek peoples’ mandate.

AIADMK MLA
AIADMK MLA’s loyal to TTV Dhinakaran addressing the media after meeting Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao in Chennai on Tuesday

Look at what is happening in Tamil Nadu, once ruled with an iron fist by J Jayalalithaa. Just a day after two factions of the AIADMK merged, 19 MLAs loyal to `Chinamma’ VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran withdrew support to Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanaswami today. And then they were all whisked away to a resort in Puducherry by Dhinakaran even as Governor Vidyasagar Rao vanished to Mumbai.

It is time to end this farce in Tamil Nadu. For over six months there has been no government in Tamil Nadu as the two factions of the AIADMK fought over everything – from party symbol to party office to power.

The best option is to immediately order for a floor test. And if the Palaniswami government fails, it is best to ask the people of Tamil Nadu to elect in a government once more.

The DMK will not be able to form a government without luring a few MLAs. But then the Anti-Defection Law would come into play.

As things stand now, Palaniswami falls short of a simple majority by just one seat. This leaves a lot of scope for money power and horse trading.

The opposition DMK and the lone IUML MLA want Chief Minister K Palaniswami to take a trust vote in the assembly. That is the right call after the rule laid out by the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai case.

The MLAs loyal to the sidelined AIADMK leaders met the Governor on Tuesday and told him that they no longer had confidence in Palaniswami government.

Most of these MLAs owe their very existence in power due to the grace of Sasikala and the Manargudi mafia. Hence it is not surprising that they have struck back.

Dhinakaran
TTV Dhinakaran, nephew of VK Sashikala

But things may become difficult and trick for this group if the BJP in the Centre steps in to show Dhinakaran his place. Already in a mess with embarrassing cases around him, all it needs for someone in Delhi to slightly push up a dirty file on Dhinakaran if he starts acting smart.

The 19 MLAs met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and told him that they have no confidence in Chief Minister Palaniswami, not the party in power.

“We are going to initiate efforts to bring in a new CM with the help of our supporting MLAs,” Dhinakaran supporter and Andipatti MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan told reporters later.

Later the Dhinakaran camp sent all its MLAs packing to a resort in Puducherry.

Of the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs excluding the Speaker. Late chief minister Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency is still vacant.

The DMK has 89 seats followed by its allies Congress with eight and IUML one seat.

Soon after the developments, principal opposition party, the DMK shot off a letter to the Governor asking him to convene the assembly and direct Palaniswami to prove his majority in the House.

Sasikala Palaniswamy
File photo of VK Sashikala with O. Paneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswamy

MLAs supporting Dhinakaran have been on the warpath against Palaniswami, questioning the merger of the Amma faction-led by him and Panneerselvam’s Puratchi Thalaivi Amma faction and sidelining Dhinakaran and Sasikala.

In a related development, Dhinakran announced the removal of senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP R Vaithilingam from the primary membership of the party.

The move came a day after Vaithilingam, a loyalist of Palaniswami, said steps would be taken for the removal of Sasikala from the AIADMK

Sources in the Dhinakaran camp said that they were totally against the way in which the merger was made without consulting them. “It was because of Panneerselvam, we had to face a confidence motion against the Chief Minister and that he had only few MLAs. Also, we lost our Two Leaves symbol because of him.”

But Co-operation Minister Sellur K. Raju expressed confidence that the government will serve its full term. “The Chief Minister will take appropriate action. He will also take action to bring together everyone into one fold,” he said.

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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