CHENNAI: Changing the numerical and thus political equation ahead of a much-anticipated floor test, Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified 18 TTV Dhinakaran-loyalist MLAs, who had handed over letters to the Governor withdrawing support to ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami as the Chief Minister, under the anti-defection law.The Assembly Secretary has formally communicated this to the Election Commission, paving way for a bypoll in six months at these 18 constituencies – and also RK Nagar, that was left vacant after the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last December.
This has reduced the strength of the House to 215, moving the simple majority mark to 108, effectively taking the government from a spot of serious bother to a position of reasonable strength. Interestingly, three MLAs who had given identical letters about two weeks ago are yet to be disqualified, which, according to observers, is a crucial part of the numbers game when it moves to the trust vote phase.
Hours later, the maintenance staff at the State Secretariat were seen inspecting the microphone and other facilities inside the Assembly hall, triggering speculation that the Palaniswami government was preparing for trust vote — provided the High Court, already seized of the matter, does not throw a spanner in the works.
Crying foul, the rebels again moved the court after the disqualification order was issued, while experts in constitutional law and veteran legislators are divided on the legal sanctity of the order, especially due to the circumstances under which it was issued. Much will depend on the High Court of Madras that had put an interim stay on floor test till Wednesday.
The move, being speculated in the last few days after the ruling faction failed to win over the rebel MLAs barring one, has expectedly led to strong reactions, with opposition leader MK Stalin terming it cowardly act done in a crooked manner. DMK, the principal opposition party, has convened its legislature party meeting on Tuesday to chalk out the next course of action.
Governor set to return today
Governor (in-charge) Ch Vidyasagar Rao is scheduled to arrive in the State capital at
12.40 pm on Tuesday. Rao met President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday