AIADMK Drama: How the Wait for HC Verdict Could Alter TN Politics

Justice Duraiswamy has said there will be no floor test in the Tamil Nadu assembly till the case is done with.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Edappadi Palaniswami's dip during the Cauvery Pushkaram at the Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple in Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, just before the hearing in the Madras High court, produced only a 50-50 result.

While Justice Duraiswamy punctured the TTV Dhinakaran camp's hope that the disqualification of its 18 MLAs will be stayed, he also said there will be no floor test in the Tamil Nadu assembly till the case is done with.

That would have disappointed the EPS camp that was hoping to push through the Trust vote in a House with truncated strength and win it easily. A victory, under the Constitution, would have translated into immunity for the EPS regime for six months.

In a nutshell, there will be no floor test, no stay on disqualification of 18 legislators, no by-elections in the 18 constituencies. Add to that, no permanent Governor for Tamil Nadu for over a year now and the tentativeness associated with the longevity of the government. It is quite apparent that Tamil Nadu is in buffering mode.


Between Now & 4 October

But while Tamil Nadu waits for 4 October for what is likely to be the final hearing in the case, the breather can alter the political dynamics. Salman Khurshid, who appeared for TTV Dhinakaran camp, advised that he should ensure there is no erosion in his ranks.

Dhinakaran need not worry for the ruling AIADMK has pretty much given up on wooing any of the 18 rebel legislators. The decision to disqualify them was taken only after several efforts to bring them back bore no fruit.

In fact, it is EPS who needs to worry about whether Dhinakaran indeed has any Trojan horses in the ruling stable. On many occasions, Dhinakaran has threatened that he will activate his sleeper cells at the appropriate time, to bring down EPS as chief minister. Palaniswami would not want to be caught in an “Et tu Brutus’’ mode on the floor when the Trust vote is taken up finally.

Which is why the ruling formation is also reportedly speaking to lawmakers in the opposition camp to give it legislative cushion. On target, reportedly, is the 8-member Congress legislature party, where EPS needs to court only four MLAs to avoid the anti-defection law. So far, the Congress has officially maintained that it will sail with the DMK, which is the big brother in the Tamil Nadu alliance.

But even as EPS indulges in firefighting and Cauvery dips at the same time, many MLAs in his camp are also getting restless. Whispers of some of them demanding ministerial berths have started gaining decibel level. This is potentially dangerous as dropping a minister to accommodate a new face will automatically transform the former into a rebel.

Speaker’s OPS Leanings

The Speaker's ruling also has a big Panneerselvam hole in it. P Dhanapal took no action against OPS faction legislators who voted against the AIADMK government in February and violated the whip. But he disqualified 18 MLAs, who only met the Governor saying they do not support EPS as chief minister. The Speaker will be expected to explain the different treatment to two sets of MLAs.

Both sides realise that the judgement could alter the political situation dramatically, though the Supreme court will be the next port of call for the aggrieved party. If the disqualification is upheld, it will be a major blow to the Dhinakaran camp. If the Speaker’s verdict is junked, EPS will lose face and it could lead to tectonic shift within his camp. With the way the numbers are stacked up, he is running a minority government and in the shifting sands of AIADMK politics, the ground could slip from under Palaniswami’s feet.

But it is not as if the government has run out of options. Insiders in the EPS camp say even if the High court strikes down the disqualification on the grounds that they have not violated the whip, the Speaker can disqualify them once they vote against the AIADMK inside the Assembly.


DMK’s Upper-hand

Even though most believe that should elections be held today, the DMK has a very good chance to come to power, the opposition party is seen as lacking the hunger to go for the jugular. That is also because opinion is divided on what the party should do next.

One school of thought is to perform well in the local body polls which will be held before the year is out and show its political clout. The same set of people also believe that the DMK could look to win most of the 18 seats plus RK Nagar (Jayalalithaa's constituency), where elections will be held in the next six months, and increase its tally. But these are slow and steady measures that do not convey an eagerness to bring down a tottering government.

Another view is that all its 89 MLAs along with 8 of the Congress and one from IUML should resign together to show that the government has no moral legitimacy left. But Stalin has been advised against it by legal eagles.

The DMK is also apprehensive that the Privileges Committee may take action against 21 of its legislators, including Stalin, for having flashed sachets of gutka, which is banned in Tamil Nadu, inside the House on 19 July. That is yet another weapon in the ruling AIADMK arsenal to reduce the opposition strength, should the High court set aside the disqualification of Dhinakaran’s MLAs. The DMK has gone to court on the case.

October is going to be a make or break month for Tamil Nadu politicians. While the High court verdict will have a bearing on the AIADMK, the 2G case judgment that will be delivered in the last week of the month, could impact the DMK's fortunes.

(The writer is a senior journalist. He can be reached at @Iamtssudhir. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own.The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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Topics:  AIADMK   o paneerselvam   TTV Dhinakaran 

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