Speaker P Dhanapal rejects request to conduct secret ballot

Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal. Photo: Twitter
Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal. Photo: Twitter

Chennai, Feb 18: As Speaker Danapal refused to conduct secret ballot, the DMK and the O Panneerselvam group MLAs are protesting against the current proceedings on the floor. The floor test is yet to begin. DMK has demanded to postpone the floor test. They said that there is no need to conduct it immediately, as the governor has given 15 days to prove majority. Moreover, they said that MLAs who were in hostage must be given fair time to think it over freely without any external pressure. They shall get ample time to visit their constituencies and to know the attitudes of the voters, the public opinion. The members have gheraoed the speaker as he rejected their requests.

While, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami lost one more legislator, Arun Kumar, from Coimbatore North has also jumped to opposite side. 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 at the acs of the current leadership.

Queried as to why he decided to boycott the trust vote instead of voting against it, Arun Kumar said he was interested in party unity and the views of the people and the cadres.

He said his decision was against one family taking control of the party.

With this desertion, the AIADMK led by General Secretary V.K. Sasikala commands the support of 123 legislators, including the Speaker, while the breakaway group led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has 11 legislators.

The opposition includes the DMK with 89 members, Congress (8) and Indian Union Muslim League (1), while one seat is vacant.

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

DMK President M. Karunanidhi is unwell. The opposition thus has 97 seats.

The Panneerselvam camp has the support of 11, taking the tally against Palaniswami to 108.

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.