Why Sasikala may not expel the dissident legislators

Updated - February 12, 2017 07:27 am IST

Published - February 12, 2017 01:21 am IST - CHENNAI:

Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam is being greeted by K. Pandiarajan, Minister for School Education and C.Ponnaiyan at his residence in Chennai on Saturday.

Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam is being greeted by K. Pandiarajan, Minister for School Education and C.Ponnaiyan at his residence in Chennai on Saturday.

Even as the game of numbers between two camps of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is becoming intense, the apparent reluctance of the party’s interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala to expel dissidents from the party has triggered a debate whether her camp would like the rebels to lose membership in the Assembly by attracting disqualification.

At present, any Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), defying the whip of his or her party, will face the risk of disqualification. Such a scenario will come to the fore as and when the Assembly gets convened to test the strength of the Ministry, irrespective of who — Ms Sasikala or O. Panneerselvam — is forming the government.

As on Saturday, Ms Sasikala’s camp claims to have the support of 127 MLAs and Mr Panneerselvam’s group, seven. The total strength of the party is 135, including Speaker P. Dhanapal. To avoid the disqualification in the event of the Sasikala camp issuing a whip at the time of the passage of vote of confidence or no-confidence motion, the rival group should muster support from two-thirds (90) of the members.

On the reasons behind the party’s present approach on the issue, Nanjil Sampath, spokesperson, says that apart from the likelihood of the rebels losing their membership by violating the whip, there is one more reason: Anticipation of the return of all but Mr Panneerselvam. “After all, they have toiled for the party and they have got positions because of the party,” says Mr Sampath.

Three occasions

According to an expert on conventions and practices of legislature, the TN Legislative Assembly Rules specifically provide for a no-confidence motion (Rule 72, Chapter XI). So far, such a motion was introduced 12 times. The last occasion was in November 1983 when R. Umanath of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) brought in a motion against the Ministry headed by the AIADMK’s founder and former Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran (MGR), according to a perusal of the Assembly records.

But, there is nothing in the Rules, which talk of a vote of confidence motion. However, since 1952, on three occasions, such a motion was carried. The procedure for moving this kind of motion will be as in the case of any ordinary motion.

The last occasion when a vote of confidence motion was passed by the House was in January 1988. The Assembly met nearly a month after MGR’s death and there was a split in the party with Janaki Ramachandran heading one faction and Jayalalithaa heading another.

Seeking the support of the House for the Janaki Ramachandran Ministry, R.M. Veerappan, the then Leader of House and Local Administration Minister, had introduced such a motion.

According to records of the Assembly, 99 legislators had voted in favour of the motion and eight against the motion. Three remained neutral. Speaker P. H. Pandian had declared that 33 legislators, belonging to the Jayalalithaa faction, stood disqualified. As the House had witnessed violence, the Centre had imposed President’s rule, dismissing the Janaki Ramachandran ministry and dissolving the Assembly.

The other two occasions were in July 1952 and December 1972. Following the defeat of the Congress’ nominee in the Aruppukottai by-election in June 1952, the then Chief Minister Rajaji had moved the motion, which was carried.

In December 1972, in the wake of MGR’s exit from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the House saw the adoption of such a motion for the second time. M. Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister.

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