CHENNAI: The tug-of-war between the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK continued on Monday, with the 10 members of the opposition party who escaped the week-long suspension due to their absence walking out of the House in protest which attracted pointed questions from Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Meanwhile, hearing a petition by the suspended DMK members, the first bench of the Madras High Court issued notice to the Assembly secretary and chief secretary, but refused to stay the suspension order.
The DMK MLAs were expected to land at the Assembly-Secretariat premises, prompting the city police to deploy a huge contingent to prevent any untoward incident. There were restrictions for members of the legislature and the media, and the members of the public were frisked thoroughly before being permitted inside.
However, after a meeting of senior leaders led by MK Stalin, the party decided not to send the suspended members to the Assembly. Instead, the rest who were absent on the day of the ruckus and thus escaped suspension attended the House and urged the Speaker, P Dhanapal, to revoke the suspension of their colleagues. This, however, was turned down, prompting a walk out.
Speaking in the House, Jaya charged that if the opposition party had any concern for the welfare of the people, they should have stayed back and participated in the discussions.
“The 10 MLAs included former ministers. Why didn’t at least a couple of them speak inside the Assembly? Don’t they know how to speak?” asked Jaya. Recalling how she had attended the House as the lone member representing her party when all others were suspended a decade ago, Jaya asked: “Why didn’t the DMK leader [Karunanidhi] take part in the debate today? Does he have the courage to attend the session?" she asked.
Refusing to revoke the suspension as sought by the opposition including the Congress and IUML, Speaker Dhanapal said the DMK members were raising false allegations against the Speaker outside the House. "They have been maligning not just me, but all speakers from 1972 (when the party came to power first)," he said.
Earlier in the day, the first bench of the Madras High Court refused to stay the operation of an order of the Tamil Nadu Assembly suspending en masse 79 DMK MLAs for a week.
The bench of Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, however, ordered notice to Assembly secretary and chief secretary, returnable by September 1.
The bench was admitting a writ petition from Leader of the Opposition and DMK treasurer MK Stalin seeking to declare the resolution of the Assembly adopted on August 17 as illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution.