PTIChennai, Tamil Nadu, IndiaJan 03, 2018, 02.40 PM
Dhinakaran flexing his muscles following the R K Nagar bypoll win, the ruling AIADMK today convened a meeting of party MLAs ahead of next week's Assembly session and advised them to maintain decorum even if there was "any kind of provocation."
Top AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami convened the meeting in which 103 MLAs attended, party sources said.
Seven other MLAs, including three ministers, had "excused" citing personal and official reasons, they said.
This will be the first time that the assembly is meeting since the disqualification of 18 pro-Dhinakaran legislators in September last year.
The session, being convened on January 8, will see Dhinakaran making his debut in the assembly after having won the December 21 bypoll by a thumping margin of over 40,000 votes against ruling party candidate E Madhusudhanan.
Fresh from the bypoll win, Dhinakaran has said "5-6" senior ministers, including Palaniswami, should step aside for the continuance of the AIADMK government.
Senior party leader and Fisheries minister D Jayakumar said the ministers could not attend due to official engagements, while the others could not make it due to reasons such as pilgrimage and illness.
They had given letters in this regard, he added.
At the meeting, the legislators were advised to maintain 'decorum' at any given situation and abide by the party whip, the sources said.
"They were advised (by the top two leaders) to maintain decorum even if there was any kind of provocation," they added.
While chief minister Palaniswami is the AIADMK co-coordinator, his deputy Panneerselvam is the coordinator.
The meeting also discussed the prospects of the ruling party launching its own TV channel and daily, especially in the absence of a dedicated mouthpiece following differences with the family of deposed leader, VK Sasikala.
AIADMK organs-- Jaya TV and Tamil vernacular Dr Namadhu MGR, controlled by Sasikala's family, were earlier party mouthpieces but have been openly critical of the Palaniswami camp after it sidelined Dhinakaran, her nephew.
Next week's assembly session would commence with the customary address by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, his first after assuming charge in November 2017.
Speaker P Dhanapal had disqualified the 18 MLAs for revolting against Palaniswami in August last year.
These MLAs had met the then governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and said they had lost confidence in the chief minister, a day after the formal merger of the two factions led by Palaniswami and then rebel leader and Panneerselvam on August 21.
The High Court, while not granting any stay on the disqualification, has restrained the Election Commission from conducting bypolls to the 18 constituencies and the assembly from holding a trust vote.
Meanwhile, the party today announced 12 leaders, including former ministers C Ponnaiyan, P Valaramthi, S Gokula Indira and Vaigaiselvan as AIADMK spokespersons.
According to a release from Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, the others in the panel include former MP KC Palanisamy and former MLA JCD Prabhakar.