EPS led AIADMK government gearing up for floor test

eps-ops-tn-file-pti [File photos] OPS and EPS have their work cut out for them until they prove their majority on the assembly floor test | PTI

The 19 MLAs supporting AIADMK’s sidelined Deputy General Secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Thursday filed a petition before the Madras High Court asking the court to direct the governor to order a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. This was taken up along with the petition filed earlier by the DMK on September 12.

DMK working president M.K. Stalin, in his petition filed on Tuesday, demanded a floor test saying that the chief minister does not have a majority in the assembly.

“It is prayed that this honourable court may issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ order or direction, directing the respondents to a hold trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly forthwith,” he said in the petition. Stalin also asked for the appointment of an independent observer to supervise the floor test.

When the DMK’s petition came up for hearing on Thursday before Justice Duraisamy, T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s advocate P.S. Raman mentioned that a few more MLAs also want to implead in the case. Justice Duraisamy asked why the 19 MLAs in the TTV faction should not be disqualified. The high court also asked the advocate general to clarify by Thursday afternoon whether Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal is going to disqualify the 19 MLAs.

The government seems set to disqualify the rebelling MLAs. Advocate General Vijay Narayan filed his reply on behalf of the government, saying, "no assurance can be given if the 19 MLAs will not be disqualified."

The advocate general also said that action against the TTV faction MLAs have commenced. He further said that the court cannot interfere in the powers of the assembly speaker and that the decision to take action on the MLAs cannot be stated now before the court. He said no decision on disqualifying them can be arrived at now.

Never-ending saga

It may be recalled that Dhanapal had already issued three notices to the 19 legislators, who had submitted separate petitions to Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao saying that they had lost confidence in the chief minister and want Edappadi K. Palanisamy replaced. The MLAs were asked to appear before the Speaker on Thursday and explain themselves. In the notice, he had sought an explanation for acting against the whip’s order.

In the meantime, two of the 19 MLAs, Thanga Thamilselvan and Vetrivel, sought three more days time to reply. At least 17 of the 19 MLAs are camped at the Paddington resort at Coorg near Mysuru. Reportedly, one of them, S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, had already switched to the EPS camp. A team from Tamil Nadu police reached the resort on September 12 to conduct inquiries as to whether the MLAs were staying there on their own or have been forcefully detained.

However, on Wednesday, a day after the TN police allegedly raided the resort premises, MLAs Thanga Tamilselvan and Senthil Balaji filed a complaint with Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kushal Nagara, Coorg district, that the Tamil Nadu police had harassed them and asked them to support EPS. They also alleged that the TN police had offered a bribe ranging from Rs 10 crore to 15 crore from EPS faction leaders only to switch sides. The two legislators also produced photographs of all police officials who had visited the resort on Tuesday.

Meantime, TTV’s move to approach the court on Thursday and implead in the DMK petition shows his desperation on one side and the EPS faction’s move to gear up for a floor test and silence Dhinakaran, on the other side. In a separate petition the TTV Faction, MLAs have also urged the court that no action should be taken against them or they should not be disqualified until EPS proves his majority in the house.

TTV’s decision to go to court seeking a floor test has come up two days after EPS and OPS gained courage to sack Sasikala from the post of the party general secretary and abolish the post once for all. So far, TTV’s move in the past 20 days to remove EPS and take control of the party and the government have failed miserably. Though TTV was looked at as an emerging leader with qualities much better than EPS and OPS, more than 90 per cent of AIADMK legislators chose to stay with EPS.

“With just 18-19 legislators on his side, Dhinakaran’s is a fight to lose. Earlier, he said there are many more supporting legislators like sleeper cells. But this is like a fight between siblings and we will come together soon,” said deputy speaker and EPS supporting legislator Pollachi V. Jayaraman. “The DMK had lost on the February 18 trust vote. Stalin is dreaming of bringing down this government and be elected as chief minister. I want to tell him that he can only dream, and this government will continue to be in power with full majority.”

The TTV camp has also moved the Election Commission by filing yet another petition on Thursday, asking it to not accept the resolutions passed in the General Council meeting, as it doesn’t abide the law.

However, the state government’s move, the court’s pressure and multiple petitions filed by the DMK and the TTV faction on various forums indicate that the EPS government is gearing up for a floor test, but after disqualifying the 19 TTV faction legislators, so that it manages to win.

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