Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Palaniswami wins trust vote after violence by DMK MLAs

Chaos in House: DMK MLAs surround Speaker P. Dhanapal during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday.

Chaos in House: DMK MLAs surround Speaker P. Dhanapal during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday.  

Only 11 vote against govt. after eviction of DMK members, Congress walk-out

The two-day-old AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, won the confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on Saturday after violence in the House that ended with the eviction of all DMK members and a walkout by their allies — the IUML and Congress. From the AIADMK, 122 members voted in favour and 11 dissidents voted against the motion.

The House, which met at 11 a.m. had to be adjourned twice due to pandemonium as DMK members shouted slogans, demanding that voting be deferred or that a secret ballot be conducted. Speaker P. Dhanapal later put the motion to vote by division and declared it passed in favour of Mr. Palaniswami.

In the 234-member House, one seat was vacant (of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa), DMK president M. Karunanidhi could not vote due to ill-health and one AIADMK MLA P.R.G. Arunkumar, boycotted the proceedings, after having escaped from a private resort near Chennai.

The 11 members who voted against the government belonged to the rebel camp led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Call for secret ballot

As soon as Mr. Palaniswami moved the motion of confidence, AIADMK dissident S. Semmalai urged the Speaker to take up a privilege notice on MLAs “being kept in confinement at a beach resort.” The Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin, Congress Legislature Party leader K.R. Ramasamy, Mr. Panneerselvam, IUML legislator Aboobucker and rebel AIADMK legislator from Mylapore R. Natraj demanded that the voting should not be conducted in a hurry. They said since the AIADMK legislators in the Sasikala camp were allegedly confined in a resort for 10 days, they should be allowed to meet voters in their respective constituencies before deciding on their vote.

Mr. Stalin said the MLAs had been lodged in a resort like prisoners and hence they were not in a position to vote in a free manner. “There should be a secret ballot or the proceedings should be adjourned for a week so that the members could breathe freely,” he said.

But the Speaker made it clear that he would abide by the Assembly Rules 19(1) and conduct the voting as per his powers, though Mr. Stalin argued that he could adjourn the proceedings under Rule 122 of the House.

Less than an hour into the proceedings, the DMK legislators trooped into the well of the House and began raising slogans, saying “We want adjournment, we want secret ballot”. Suddenly some MLAs turned violent and ransacked the table of the Speaker and of the Assembly Secretary A.M.P. Jamaludeen. They also dislodged the microphone on the Speaker’s table and tore Assembly Rule books, papers and files, and hurled them towards the Speaker. This prompted Mr. Dhanapal to adjourn the House till 1 p.m.

As Mr Dhanapal was escorted to safety, some DMK legislators were seen pulling him towards them. Later, two MLAs K.K. Selvam and B. Ranganathan were seen sitting on the Speaker’s chair, in contravention of the rules.

Later Mr. Dhanapal complained that his shirt was torn. Throughout the pandemonium the AIADMK ministers and MLAs remained passive onlookers.

When the House reconvened at 1 p.m., the DMK MLAs once again opposed the confidence vote, and indulged in another round of violence. The Speaker then adjourned the House till 3 p.m.

In the meantime, the DMK legislators staged a dharna inside the House and the Speaker ordered the watch and ward staff, with fresh reinforcements to evict them. The marshals, who were led by a few senior police officers in white uniform (watch and ward staff’s uniform), then evicted the protesting MLAs. Many, including Mr Stalin, who was encircled by his party colleagues, were bodily lifted and removed from brought out of the House. Several MLAs were also dragged out on the floor as they resisted eviction.

The House also witnessed some DMK members attacking the watch and ward staff and hurling chairs at them. In the melee a few members including former Minister I. Periyasami lost their dhoties. Former Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna was seen standing on a bench making a cone of a paper and shouting slogans.

Once all the DMK MLAs were evicted, the eight Congress MLAs and lone IUML member walked out in protest.

Division method

The Speaker then opted for the division method of voting and the entire House was divided into six blocks with only the Sasikala and Panneerselvam factions of the AIADMK participating in the process. After the bell rang thrice, Assembly secretary Jamaludeen called members of the block one by one. First he counted those who supported the government and followed it by those who opposed the confidence vote. Finally, he ascertained if anyone wanted to remain neutral. No member took a neutral position.

Eventually, the Speaker declared that the motion has been passed. “Even if the DMK members and others had voted in the House, the government would have won the trust vote,” he said.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 3:44:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/palaniswami-wins-trust-vote-after-violence-by-dmk-mlas/article17327547.ece

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