Chaos reigns in TN assembly, DMK members evicted

Chennai, Feb 18 (IANS) Pandemonium reigned in the Tamil Nadu assembly on Saturday as Speaker P. Dhanapal was heckled by the opposition DMK members, after Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami proposed a confidence motion. The Speaker adjourned the House till 3 p.m.

The Speaker sent out legislators belonging to DMK for creating ruckus, before adjourning the House.

Earlier, chaos reigned when the House resumed after a brief adjournment following ruckus in the assembly with opposition parties demanding secret ballot to decide the fate of Palaniswami, who was sworn in on Thursday.

In the morning, soon after the assembly began, Palaniswami moved the confidence motion, which was followed by heated arguments started by DMK supremo and Leader of Opposition M.K. Stalin urging Speaker Dhanapal to allow secret ballot.

The Speaker, who belongs to the faction of AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala, stood his ground and said that legislators could not interfere with his powers.

He also questioned the need for urgency in seeking a confidence vote when Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao had given 15 days time to Palaniswami.

As the AIADMK lawmakers supporting Chief Minister Palaniswami remained silent, the DMK legislators surrounded Dhanapal shouting slogans.

They tore the assembly agenda papers and some flung the mikes and chairs.

When the marshals tried to escort Dhanapal out, DMK members pulled him back to his chair. One DMK MLA sat on the Speaker’s chair in protest.

Dhanapal first adjourned the House till 1 p.m. and later till 3 p.m.

Former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam also demanded secret ballot.

In the morning, Palaniswami’s AIADMK faction suffered a second blow when Arun Kumar, a legislator from Coimbatore North, jumped ship.

Speaking to IANS over the phone from Coimbatore, Arun Kumar said: “I left the beach resort… I was not held back.”

He said party cadres and the people were not happy with the current leadership.

On Friday, AIADMK legislator representing Mylapore constituency and former Director General of Police (DGP) R. Nataraj said he would vote against Palaniswami.

The AIADMK led by General Secretary Sasikala commands the support of 123 legislators, including the Speaker, while the breakaway group led by Panneerselvam has 11 legislators.

The opposition includes the DMK with 89 members, Congress (eight) and Indian Union Muslim League (one), while one seat is vacant.

The DMK, Congress and IUMl have said they will vote against the Palaniswami government. The tally against Palaniswami stands at 108.

DMK President M. Karunanidhi is unwell.

If there is some cross-voting of 8-10 legislators from Sasikala’s camp then it could be curtains for Palaniswami.

The assembly has a total strength of 234, with one seat vacant.

–IANS

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