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Dhinakaran’s Return Could Flare Up TN Crisis as EPS Camp Weakens

With more than a handful of MLAs now rallying behind TTV, EPS could possibly be put to a floor test once again.

Published
India
3 min read
TTV Dhinakaran with his lawyers (Photo: PTI)

Instability, it appears, has become the new normal for the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. The party’s Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran’s return to Chennai after being granted bail has created cracks in the AIADMK yet again, with a third faction now under his leadership possibly posing a threat to the three-month-old Edappadi Palaniswami-led government.

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On Tuesday, 18 MLAs – including P Vetrivel and Thangatamilsevan – met at Dhinakaran’s Adyar residence in Chennai.

The show of strength by the Deputy General Secretary comes a day after Finance Minister D Jayakumar declared that Dhinakaran had nothing to do with the party and the government.

Speaking to Puthiya Thalaimurai following the meeting, Thangatamilselvan claimed that TTV has the support of 25 MLAs. “We can’t listen to Minister Jayakumar. Who gave 15 ministers the right to decide things? Only the General Secretary can decide matters, but Chinnamma is not there.”

He added:

The chief minister has also not said anything. Why has the CM not announced anything? Did Jayakumar really discuss this with the CM? We will have a meeting with the CM and ask him how he could say that we shouldn’t meet TTV. This is not to scare anyone, we met TTV to ensure the progress of the party.

Mariappankennady, an MLA from Manamadurai who is now in the TTV camp, told The News Minute: "How can Minister Jayakumar tell us to not meet the Deputy General Secretary of the party? We don't know where these orders are coming from, or if the CM has approved it. In fact, right now, MLAs from across the state are coming to Chennai to meet TTV Dhinakaran.”

“He has the support of at least 50 MLAs,” Mariappan added. “He is a very capable, knowledgeable and well-connected man. The party needs a leader like him, who will consult MLAs before taking decisions. We were shattered when posters of Chinnamma were removed from the AIADMK headquarters and now this. Hopefully, a meeting with the chief minister will solve all these problems."

Dismissing the bribery case against Dhinakaran, Mariappankennady said,

Who doesn’t have charges of corruption against them? All politicians have some kind of corruption case against them. How can you get scared because of this? You have to fight it out.

Another Trust Vote?

With more than a handful of MLAs now rallying behind Dhinakaran, CM Edappadi Palaniswami’s government, with a razor thin majority, could possibly be put to a floor test once again.

Even as TTV supporters were meeting in Adyar, EPS held discussions with Speaker P Dhanapal back at the Secretariat.

Finance Minister Jayakumar, however, dismissed reports that there was a threat to the government, stating, "Ignore Thangatamilselvan. The MLAs have met on a personal capacity. There are no leadership problems in the party and there is no threat to Amma's government."

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But Can the TTV Faction Bring Down the EPS Government?

A trust vote in Assembly is essentially a numbers game. The strength of the TN Assembly, after Jayalalithaa's demise, is 234.

With DMK chief Karunanidhi absent and the Speaker’s vote only counting in case of a tie, the halfway mark becomes 117.

With all factions put together, the AIADMK has 134 votes (minus Jayalalithaa and Speaker Dhanapal.)

While the O Panneerselvam camp has 11 MLAs, Dhinakaran claims to have 25 MLAs. The majority are, so far, backing the chief minister – but even then, EPS only has 98 MLAs.

Assuming that the DMK votes against EPS, if a confidence motion is moved, EPS will definitely fall short of the magic number – even if the much-speculated merger between OPS and EPS factions comes through.

If the DMK decides to abstain from the vote, the halfway mark comes down to 68. In which case, Edappadi Palaniswami will retain the chief minister's chair.

But considering that the outcome could mean the fall of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, the likelihood of Dhinakaran pulling such a stunt is rather low – unless of course he manages to get a majority of AIADMK MLAs on his side.

Will EPS Disqualify TTV's MLAs?

Another likelihood is that Edappadi Palaniswami can disqualify the rebelling MLAs under Schedule 10 of the Constitution, popularly known as the anti-defection law.

According to this rule, any MLA can be disqualified from the Assembly for joining another party or for voting against the whip issued by his or her party. In this case, EPS can claim that the 25 MLAs, who are supporting Dhinakaran, have joined a separate party.

However, the disqualification will not apply if at least two-third of the members of the AIADMK in the House – 90 MLAs – decide to join Dhinakaran.

(This article was originally published in The News Minute)

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