AS THE Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a petition by an MLA owing allegiance to sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran, seeking a stay on a key meeting called by the faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, Tuesday’s general council meeting is expected to remove interim general secretary Sasikala and Dinakaran from the party.
While pro-Sasikala leaders warned that any such move will set the stage for the government’s defeat in a floor test in the Assembly, leaders in the Palaniswami camp said that removing Sasikala will weaken her camp and bring more MLAs to the ruling side as no legislator would want to face elections just over a year since the party returned to power.
Late on Monday, on an appeal moved by the Dinakaran camp against the dismissal of their petition earlier in the day, a division bench of the high court refused to stay the single-judge order in favour of the general council meeting. The case will be heard next on October 23.
Speaking to the media in Madurai, Dinakaran repeated that his target was not the government but Chief Minister Palaniswami. He added that the minority government may not last long if that is required to defeat the ruling faction.
The general council meeting, to be chaired by party presidium chairman and ruling faction leader E Madhusudhanan, is scheduled to begin around 10.30 am in Vanagaram locality of Chennai. All executive committee members, district office-bearer, secretaries of unions, towns, area and town panchayats, and those of other states have been invited.
A senior minister close to Palaniswami said they expect “not less than” 1,000 of nearly 1,300 members to be in attendance. “The meeting will have at least 10 resolutions on various issues, besides the crucial decision to remove Sasikala and Dinakaran from party leadership,” the minister said. “Replacing Sasikala, the meeting will give complete powers to Chief Minister Palaniswami and (rebel-turned-ally) O Panneerselvam to take decisions on party affairs.”
The Cauvery river water issue, problems faced by Tamil fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, and a general resolution on the education system without direct references to the NEET controversy are among the key resolutions expected.
Earlier in the day, the single-judge bench of HC dismissed the petition filed by P Vetrivel, an MLA in the Dinakaran camp, and also slapped an exemplary cost of Rs 1 lakh for “wasting judicial time through such a vexatious petition”. Justice C V Karthikeyan told the petitioner that the issue became an individual grievance and not a collective grievance of a group of party leaders, or workers.
The court also suggested that the petitioner should either attend the general council, or choose to have lunch alone at the venue, or could ignore the invite and sit at home. The AIADMK has 134 MLAs, excluding the Speaker, in the 234-member House, with 21 pro-Dinakaran MLAs having formally singed a memorandum before the Governor. The DMK-Congress-IUML opposition alliance has 98 MLAs.