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Despite TTV Camp’s Rejection, EPS Claims to Have 124 AIADMK MLAs

If 124 MLAs back him, Chief Minister Palaniswami will have the support of a majority in the Assembly.

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In a show of strength, the unified AIADMK led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday held a meeting of its legislators and claimed the backing of 124 MLAs, including nine from the sidelined deputy chief TTV Dhinkaran's camp.

The assertion came after the meeting convened by Palaniswami amid persistent demand by the Opposition for a floor test after rebellion by 21 MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran.

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According to State Fisheries Minister and senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar, as many as 111 MLAs reposed their faith in the chief minister at the meeting.

Nine MLAs from "that camp" (Dhinakaran faction) also extended support to the Chief Minister over phone, he claimed, emerging from the meeting held at party headquarters.

Jayakumar further added that three MLAs of allied parties, who contested last year's Assembly polls on AIADMK's Two Leaves symbol, have also pledged support to Palaniswami as also another party MLA who could not attend due to health reasons.

With this number, the chief minister will garner the support of a majority in the Assembly, should there be a floor test.

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Dhinakaran's Followers Stay Adamant

The TTV Dhinakaran faction of the ruling AIADMK on 4 September had said it has rejected an invite to participate in Tuesday's party legislators' meeting convened by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and asserted there is no change in its stand that the CM should be removed.

Thangatamilselvan, MLA, a staunch loyalist of sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary Dhinakaran, said the dissident legislators had been contacted over phone from the party headquarters on Sunday and invited for Tuesday's meeting.

We asked them why we were not invited for a previous similar meeting. The rebel MLAs were informed that it was ‘inadvertent’ and that such things would not recur. There is no chance of going since our demand (of removing the chief minister) has not been fulfilled.
Thangatamilselvan told reporters

He said that notwithstanding Tuesday's meeting, there was no change in their demand that Palaniswami be removed as the chief minister, a plea the 19 dissident AIADMK MLAs had made with Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on 22 August.

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When asked if the MLAs supporting Dhinakaran would press their demand in Tuesday's meeting, Thangatamilselvan shot back saying "the question doesn't arise since we are not attending it".

The 19 MLAs made the demand a day after the AIADMK factions led by Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam merged. The strength of the camp has gone up to 21 with two more MLAs joining it. The MLAs are staying in the neighbouring town, Puducherry.

Palaniswami has convened the meeting of AIADMK MLAs near Chennai, exactly a week ahead of the September 12 general council and executive meets of the party, which could take a call on the future of jailed party chief V K Sasikala and Dhinakaran in AIADMK.

Palaniswami and Dhinakaran are involved in a tussle for power even as opposition parties including DMK have been demanding that the governor direct a floor test for the state government in the assembly to prove its strength.
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The chief minister's camp had recently announced that Dhinakaran had been removed from the party on 10 August itself and hence changes being made by him in party posts were invalid.

Meanwhile, the Dhinakaran camp got a shot in the arm with two Lok Sabha MPs today extending support to the sidelined leader.

Dhinakaran's Followers Speak Up

AIADMK’s Lok Sabha members B Senguttuvan (Vellore) and M Udhayakumar (Dindigul) met Dhinakaran and expressed their support.

Later, speaking to reporters, Senguttuvan alleged that Tamil Nadu had "the most corrupt government in the country" and wanted Palaniswami to step down as chief minister.

Amma (late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa) had given an excellent rule. But the prevailing situation is a shame for all in Tamil Nadu.
B Senguttuvan
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The alleged suicide of Dalit student and medical aspirant Anitha, who had opposed National Entrance cum Eligibility Test in the Supreme Court, made them take a position against the government.

Uthayakumar claimed that after the death of party supremo Jayalalithaa, her successor V K Sasikala had taken AIADMK forward and ensured the government survived following the February 2017 rebellion by present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.

Dhinakaran, on Monday sacked party's Lok Sabha MP KRP Prabakaran as party's Tirunelveli Rural District Secretary, replacing him with SSN Chokkalingam.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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