CHENNAI: Notwithstanding the calls for floor-test growing wider and shriller, Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao refused to direct the government to take a confidence vote from the Assembly, maintaining that the ongoing strife was an internal affair of the ruling party.
The reluctance came even as the AIADMK dissenters stood firm in their demand for removal of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and hinted at a parallel general council meeting of the party. “The Governor said he could not intervene at this stage as this is an intra-party issue of the AIADMK.
He explained that the 19 dissenting MLAs were still in the AIADMK and hence, he did not think the Chief Minister had lost his majority,” said VCK president Thol Thirumavalavan, who, met the Governor on Wednesday morning to submit a memorandum urging him to direct Palaniswami to prove his majority in the House. Others who accompanied Thirumavalavan include CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan, CPI State secretary R Mutharasan and MMK general secretary MH Jawahirullah.
During the meeting, Jawahiruallah added, Rao said the ball had not come to his court till now. “But we insisted that the ball is very much in his court, and that he should kick it,” he said. Raj Bhavan has not issued any statement on the meeting of the opposition parties.
The decision to wait and watch came on a day when the ousted deputy general secretary of the AIADMK T T V Dhinakaran reiterated that Palaniswami had only a short time left before stepping down, while the 19 MLAs loyal to him remained defiant in the face of the notice issued by Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal.
“Right now, we have given time to Palaniswami to step down on his own. We will not let any betrayer occupy the Chief Minister’s seat,” Dhinakaran told reporters in response to a query.
In the evening, after submitting individual replies to the notice asking why action should not be taken under anti-defection law, P Vetrivel and Thanga Thamizhselvan, two key MLAs in the dissenting camp, told mediapersons that the notice was not legally tenable and that meeting the Governor was not a crime. Sounding another warning, AIADMK interim general secretary V K Sasikala’s brother and influential backroom operator V K Dhivakaran announced that Dhinakaran would soon convene the general council of the party, thus foretelling a possibility of parallel meetings as happened in 1996 when the party faced a split.
Meanwhile, as questions rose about the actual number of MLAs supporting him ahead of the crucial general council meeting on September where the ruling faction is going to expel Sasikala, Dhinakaran and others, Palaniswami has called for a meeting of the party MLAs along with party district secretaries and other office-bearers from Thursday.