Chennai, Sep 18 (IANS) Eighteen AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to rebel leader T.T.V. Dinakaran were on Monday disqualified by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal, giving the ruling side an edge in a show of strength which now seems imminent.
Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, who met President Ram Nath Kovind and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the national capital, is reaching Chennai on Tuesday morning and may issue orders summoning a special session of the Assembly for the Chief Minister to prove his majority.
Assembly Secretary K. Boopathy said that after the disqualification under the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules 1986, the 18 MLAs have lost their membership of the House.
He also wrote to the Election Commission notifying the vacancies in the House after the disqualification.
With this, the effective strength of the 234-member House (where late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s seat remains vacant) has come down to 215. And against a half-way mark of 109, Chief Minister E. Palaniswami claims to enjoy the support of 114 MLAs.
The DMK and its allies have 98 members.
The disqualified MLAs are: Thanga Tamilselvan, R. Murugan, Cho. Mariappan Kennedy, K. Kathikamu, C. Jayanthi Padmanabhan, P. Palaniappan, V. Senthil Balaji, S. Muthiah, P. Vetrivel, N.G. Parthiban, M. Kothandapani, T.A. Elumalai, M. Rengasamy, R. Thangadurai, R. Balasubramani, ‘Ethirkottai’ S.G. Subramanian, R. Sundararaj and K. Uma Maheshwari.
Though notices were issued by the Speaker initially to 19 AIADMK MLAs who took sides with Dinakaran, one of them, S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, shifted his loyalty to the Chief Minister.
The 18 MLAs have neither quit their party membership nor joined another political party, grounds on which an MLA can be disqualified.
A furious Dinakaran told reporters that the Speaker’s decision was a “short cut” to gaining majority but said the matter will be taken to the Madras High Court on Tuesday.
“We are sure we will get a stay. Justice will triumph. Patience will win. Betrayal will never win,” he said.
He said the fact that the government did not have majority was well known from last month and blamed the Governor for the current unpleasant situation. “After unseating the governemnt, we will get a majority in the elections,” Dinakaran said.
He claimed he had the open support of 21 MLAs and 10 to 12 MLAs were “silently” with them.
His loyalist MLA Thanga Tamilselvan said in Kodagu in Karnataka, where the MLAs are staying in a resort, that they were 100 per cent confident that they would get justice in court. They would not rest till the Chief Minister was removed, he said.
Chief Minister Palaniswamy said in Salem that nobody can succeed in toppling his government or splitting the AIADMK. His faction would restore the frozen election symbol of “Two Leaves” for itself, he said.
Last week, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the DMK on a petition seeking an immediate floor test in the Assembly, told the Madras High Court that he feared the Speaker could disqualify these MLAs and conduct a floor test to facilitate Palaniswami to prove his legislative majority.
The opposition parties have been demanding that the government should prove its majority on the floor of the House after 19 legislators asked the Governor to initiate the process to install a new Chief Minister.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin said on Monday that the Speaker’s action amounted to “cruel murder” of democracy and was an attempt by the Chief Minister to take a short cut to prove his majority in the Assembly.
The Madras High Court had ordered that a floor test should not be held till September 20.
Stalin had claimed earlier that the Palaniswami government has lost majority support after the legislators belonging to Dinakaran group withdrew their support to Palaniswami. On Monday, Stalin asked both the Speaker and the Chief Minister to resign.
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