Eighteen dissident AIADMK MLAs belonging to the T.T.V. Dhinakaran faction, who had withdrawn support to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, were on Monday disqualified from their posts by Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal.
Announcing this, Assembly Secretary K. Boopathy said in an official release that since the Speaker has disqualified them under Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986, the 18 AIADMK MLAs have lost their MLA posts.
Only last week senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the DMK, told the Madras High Court that he feared the Speaker could disqualify these legislators and conduct a floor test to facilitate Mr. Palaniswami to prove his majority in the Assembly.
With the disqualification of the 18 MLAs the collective strength of legislators in the 234-member House has come down to 215 (including the seat that fell vacant after the demise of Jayalalithaa). Mr Palaniswami now needs the support of just 108 MLAs, excluding that of the Speaker, to prove his majority and he can easily sail through a floor test.
The disqualified MLAs are:
Thanga Tamilselvan (Andipatti)
R. Murugan (Harur)
Cho. Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai)
Dr. K. Kathikamu (Periyakulam)
C. Jayanthi Padmanabhan (Gudiyattam)
P. Palaniappan (Pappireddipatti)
V. Senthil Balaji (Aravakurichi)
Dr. S. Muthiah (Paramakudi)
P. Vetrivel (Perambur)
N.G. Parthiban (Sholingar)
M. Kothandapani (Thiruporur)
T.A. Elumalai (Poonamallee)
M. Rengasamy (Thanjavur)
R. Thangadurai (Nilakottai)
R. Balasubramani (Ambur)
'Ethirkottai' S.G. Subramanian (Sattur)
R. Sundararaj (Ottapidaram)
K. Uma Maheshwari (Vilathikulam)
Though notices were issued by the Speaker initially to 19 AIADMK MLAs, who took sides with Mr. Dhinakaran on the recommendation of Chief Government Whip S. Rajendran, one of them S.T.K. Jakkaiyan (Cumbum) shifted his loyalties and to the Chief Minister.
Significantly the 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs have neither quit their party membership nor joined another political party.