Sidelined AIADMK (Amma) deputy chief T T V Dhinakaran on Thursday urged Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to act on the plea of his loyalist MLAs seeking ouster of Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and their demand for a floor test in the Assembly. On a day of fast-paced developments, Dhinakaran’s loyalist MLA S K T Jakkaiyan switched to the Palaniswami camp which was dubbed by the deputy chief as being due to the “intimidation and lure” of the ruling camp.
However, in what is considered a shot in the arm for the sidelined camp, legislator S Karunas of Mukkulathor Pulipadai, pledged his support to Dhinakaran. With this two developments, the total number of MLAs supporting Dhinakaran remained at 21. While indicating that he does not want the government to be toppled, Dhinakaran demanded removal of Palaniswami and Panneerselvam.
“It is evident that he (Palaniswami) has no majority. Therefore he should be asked (by the Governor) to prove majority,” he said. Speaking to reporters outside his residence after meeting the governor at the Raj Bhavan along with his loyalist MPs, and MLAs, he said they urged Rao to direct Palaniswami to prove his majority.
They also sought action on the MLAs’ representation to the governor, seeking the chief minister’s ouster, Dhinakaran said, adding, “For us the chief minister and his deputy should be removed. The governor has assured us that he will take a good decision.” To a question on Jakkaiyan switching camps, he said, “Horse trading is on and this should not be allowed to continue,” Dhinakaran said it was only due to such situations that his loyalist MLAs were staying at neighbouring Puducherry.
He said that he has apprised the governor that what was now happening was not an “intra-party affair” and that a recent legislators’ meet chaired by Palaniswami had showed he “does not have” the requisite majority. Dhinakaran claimed that the Palaniswami camp themselves had accepted that they do not have a majority and as such the governor should not delay a floor test.
On Jakkaiyan issue, he said the MLA had contacted him this morning and suggested he was being intimidated, and asked him what should be done. “I told him that you go (to CM camp) if you want and we will take a decision at the right time. It is natural that some will be bogged down by such intimidation, but not all,” Dhinakaran said and claimed that even yesterday Jakkaiyan had sought posts like party headquarters secretary and presidium chairman.
Jakkaiayan, later told reporters that there was no pressure on him to join the Palaniswami camp and that he did so of his own free will. Harping on his “sleeper cell MLAs” usage (a claim to refer his loyalist MLAs with Palaniswami camp), Dhinakaran said bringing down Palaniswami and Panneerselvam from the reigns of power was his camp’s sole idea.
“If one MLA goes, two more will come to us, our sleeper cell legislators will come out,” he said, adding that three MLAs (Karunas, Rathinasabapathy, Kalaiselvan) have pledged their support to him. Asked about the perception that the BJP was calling the shots in the entire episode, Dhinakaran refused to blame the saffron party and quipped, “When our men have turned betrayers, how can I blame others?”
He said whoever supported the Palaniswami rule cannot go to the people for votes. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy told mediapersons here that Palaniswami should tender his resignation in view of Dhinakaran loyalists withdrawing their support.
Jakkaiyan, on his part, said “I desire that Palaniswami should continue as the chief minister”. Asserting that Jayalalithaa had ushered in the government through sheer hard work, he said his contribution should also be there for the continuance of the government. Jakkaiyan said the “differences was only an intra-party affair,” and added that the situation should not be allowed to turn in favour of the DMK.
Rajya Sabha MP A Navaneethakrishnan, who was a part of the delegation who met the governor, told PTI that they have apprised Rao of those who moved the Supreme Court against the February 18 trust vote. He said, the governor was informed that they were now a part of the government and that it was a ‘constitutional impropriety’.
The parliamentarian was apparently referring to K Pandiarajan, a loyalist of Panneerselvam and now a minister moving the apex court against the trust vote won by Palaniswami. The chief minister and Dhinakaran have been at loggerheads as ever since the merger the unified AIADMK had declared that the latter had been removed from the deputy general secretary post on August 10 and questioned his authority to make changes in the party set up.
In the 234-member house, the AIADMK has a strength of 135, including the Speaker. The opposition has a total strength of 98, including 89 of the DMK, eight of Congress and an IUML member.
The R K Nagar constituency, which was represented by Jayalalithaa, is vacant since her death.