Politics

As 19 Pro-Dhinakaran AIADMK Leaders Meet TN Governor, DMK Demands a Trust Vote

The Dhinakaran faction in the AIADMK has made it clear that they intend to remove chief minister Palanswami from his post and put forth their own candidate.

T.T.V. Dhinakaran being greeted by supporters. Credit: PTI/Files

T.T.V. Dhinakaran being greeted by supporters. Credit: PTI/Files

New Delhi: As political turmoil within the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu continues, 19 pro-T.T.V. Dhinakaran MLAs reportedly met with the state’s governor on Tuesday and asked that he take action against chief minister E. Palanaswami (known popularly as EPS) for ‘abuse of power’, ‘corruption’ and ‘favouritism’.

“..the present situation has arisen that the governance of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with provisions of the constitution…I request you Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu to intervene and institute the constitutional process as constitutional head of the state…” the document submitted by the MLAs to governor Vidyasagar Rao was quoted by India Today as saying.

Speaking to a television channel, Sasikala-Dhinakaran loyalist Thangathamizh Chelvan said, “We have told the governor that we will be taking steps to change chief minister Palaniswami.”

According to an Indian Express report, the Dhinakaran faction thinks that other MLAs will support them in their choice of a different chief ministerial candidate so that they get to keep their positions. The support of 17 MLAs is enough for the faction to topple the government in the 233-member assembly, but remains to be seen if the Dhinakaran faction will choose to do that. “He [Palanaswami] was the backstabber. Rajya Sabha MP R. Vaithilingam will also regret his statement against Sasikala on Monday, forgetting the fact that it was Sasikala who gave him key party posts,” a senior MLA in the Dhinakaran camp told the newspaper.

A source close to Dhinakaran told Indian Express he has 19 party MLAs and three independent MLAs on his side. Eight other MLAs, including four ministers, are expected to join him. Most of the MLAs in Dhinakaran’s faction are either related to jailed leader and J. Jayalalithaa’s confidante V.K. Sasikala (Dhinakaran’s aunt), or were given important posts in the state government because of her. “The number of MLAs supporting TTV is likely to touch 30 in one or two days,” a minister told the Indian Express. MLAs supporting Dhinakaran are not at a resort in Puducherry, with one of them telling the media they were there to “take rest”.

An MLA in the Dhinakaran camp told Indian Express that withdrawing support from the government may be the last option. “This is Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s) government. We will fight for it until the last moment, and will go to the extreme only if it becomes clear that it is no more an AIADMK government but a BJP puppet,” he said.

DMK demands trust vote

DMK working president M.K. Stalin told the media, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an Independence Day speech against corruption. And the same Modi has helped merge two corrupt groups in Tamil Nadu and blessed them. With 22 AIADMK MLAs saying they have lost trust in EPS, the governor should ask him to prove majority.”

The party also sent a letter to the governor expressing this demand, calling the current situation“an unprecedented constitutional crisis”, Indian Express reported.

On Monday, two factions within the AIADMK, led by EPS and former chief minister O. Panneerselvam or OPS (who was sworn in as deputy chief minister), merged. The merger came six months after the factions split. Modi had expressed his support for this merger, even putting it down as a condition for the AIADMK to join the NDA. The Dhinakaran faction was unhappy with the merger, especially as one of the conditions laid down by the OPS side was that Sasikala be removed from the party.

Dhinakaran first announced his decision to fight the merger at a large public rally on August 14. “You cannot run the party from headquarters, but have to be with the cadres and people on the ground. You were made the chief minister by Sasikala, don’t you forget that,” Dhinakaran said then, alluding to Palanisami becoming head of the legislature party.