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Tamil Nadu: After Palaniswami wins trust vote, Panneerselvam camp says fight still on

'We will win the people's support to reinstall Amma's (former chief minister J Jayalalithaa) government,' Panneerselvam told reporters. Photograph: (AFP)

DNA Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Feb 19, 2017, 03.43 AM (IST)

By G Jagannath 

Amidst the eviction of all 88 DMK MLAs who had gone on the rampage demanding a secret ballot, the Edappadi K Palaniswami government won the trust Saturday with 122 MLAs supporting it and 11 rebel MLAs led by O Panneerselvam voting against it.

History repeated itself in the Tamil Nadu Assembly when the DMK MLAs indulged in violence during the confidence motion, like in the 1988 trust vote of the VN Janaki government. Palaniswami won the confidence vote in which only the two warring factions of AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala and former chief minister O Panneerselvam participated after the eviction of all 88 DMK MLAs and a walkout by its ally Congress (8 MLAs) and IUML (1 MLA).

After alleging that he was manhandled in the Assembly by marshals, Leader of the Opposition and DMK working president MK Stalin, who came out of the House with a torn shirt, complained to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao about the incidents in the Assembly and urged him to order a fresh floor test.

Any move to disqualify the nine rebel MLAs (Panneerselvam and Pandiarajan were expelled from the party) will be challenged in the court,' said a political observer
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Later, he protested by sitting in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Marina beach along with his MLAs and party cadres. Police detained him and other MLAs but there are reports of stone pelting on buses and road blocks across the state.

Speaking to reporters at late Jayalalithaa's memorial after winning the trust vote, Palaniswami said that Chinnamma's (Sasikala) vow has come true with his governing winning the confidence vote. "The media have captured the atrocities committed by the DMK in the Assembly. They came planned to stall the confidence vote. However, they failed," he said.

The House, which started at 11 am, was adjourned twice after DMK members created a ruckus, seeking secret voting. After the House met, Stalin, Panneerselvam and Congress floor leader KR Ramasamy demanded a secret ballot or an adjournment saying most MLAs were not in a free position to cast their votes. When the Speaker rejected their demand saying he would go for a division vote, infuriated DMK members rushed to the well of the House and gheraoed the Speaker. It soon turned violent with some MLAs breaking the Speaker's table and microphone. They also broke the Assembly secretary's chair and table and threw out the Assembly rule book.

Some members were seen standing in their chair, raising slogans. Even as some DMK MLAs tried to pull the Speaker, the marshals rescued him. Stalin and his deputy Duraimurugan remained a mute spectator to the violence unleashed by their party legislators.

When the Assembly met again at 1 pm, the Speaker expressed anguish over the humiliation he faced at the hands of DMK members. "My shirt was torn by them," he said showing it to the members. However, Stalin expressed regret for it. Even as the Speaker asked Palaniswami to move the trust motion, DMK members were on their feet again and rushed to the well of the House. Dhanapal immediately ordered the eviction of all DMK MLAs and adjourned the House till 3 pm for the second time.

But DMK members were in no mood to leave the House as they staged a sit-in protest. The marshals had a tough time removing the protesting DMK members as they resisted. Each member, including Stalin, was forcefully taken out by the marshals.

When the House meet again after the second adjournment, it passed the confidence motion in division vote in the absence of DMK, Congress and IUML. After declaring that the government won the confidence vote with 122 votes, the Speaker said that even if the DMK members and other opposition parties took part in the voting, the government would have won the majority.

On the government winning the trust motion, Panneerselvam said that they have now passed the resolution saying the government has won the vote of confidence. "Now people will judge them. When these MLAs go to the people, the voters will certainly question them. We will win the people's support to reinstall Amma's (Jayalalithaa) government," he told reporters.

Former school education minister K Pandiarajan, who is in the OPS camp, said: "Had there been a secret ballot, MLAs would have voted against Palaniswami. We may have lost the battle but the war has just begun." On Saturday morning, the OPS faction appointed a senior leader and MLA S Semmalai as the party whip. "Any move to disqualify the nine rebel MLAs (Panneerselvam and Pandiarajan were expelled from the party) will be challenged in the court. Moreover, the Sasikala camp will not risk by-election at this point of time considering the negative sentiment against it," said a political observer.

(This report firs appeared in DNA)

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