The Hindu – Ahead of D-day, Sasikala camp leaves no stone unturned

In a bid to keep his flock together, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami spends considerable time at the resort; Minister ‘warns’ rebels of expulsion from party

Special Correspondent

Chennai, 18 February 2017. Not leaving anything to chance, the ruling AIADMK (Sasikala) on Friday went all out to win every vote it could ahead of the motion of confidence to be moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday.

With one more MLA switching camps and backing the O Panneerselvam faction on Friday, the ruling faction did not want to take risks.

In fact, the Chief Minister spent considerable time at the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur, some 85 km away from Chennai, interacting with the MLAs who have been lodged there since February 8. He did not go to the Secretariat, though he assumed office on Thursday.

Mr Palaniswami is learnt to have appealed to the MLAs that there was a need to be united during this crucial moment.

Meanwhile, Handloom and Textile Minister O.S. Manian, a staunch Sasikala supporter, warned that AIADMK MLAs who do not vote according to the party whip can be dismissed.

The AIADMK (Sasikala) leadership has expelled only two of the 11 rebel legislators from primary membership of the party, but even that has not been communicated to the Speaker.

This means the whip would be applicable to all 11 dissidents.

This has surprised political observers, who also feel that this could open the door for disqualification (as and when the whip is violated) and a long legal battle.

In the Assembly, O Panneerselvam, who was the Chief Minister until recently, has been allotted seat number 82 in the second row and K Pandiarajan, seat number 90 in the third row.

Mr Manian said: “During the last confidence vote in 1988, the then Speaker P H Pandian (now in the rebel camp) had disqualified the 33 MLAs backing Jayalalithaa because they did not vote according to the directions of party whip. We will also disqualify those who don’t vote according to the party whip. The Speaker will take action.”

The day also saw the election of K A Senkottaiyan as the leader of the House, the post that was held by O Panneerselvam.


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