The Madras High Court Thursday upheld the disqualification of 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs, in a big relief to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy, who holds a majority in the Tamil Nadu assembly. Justice M Sathyanarayanan heard the pleas after a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar gave a split verdict on the matter on June 14 this year. The decision may cause rumblings in the political circle, especially when speculations of a BJP-AIADMK alliance in the state are rife.
Here’s what happened so far
Dec 5, 2016: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK matriarch J. Jayalalithaa dies, leaving the unanswered and much-speculated question on who will take on the party reigns.
Dec 6, 2016: Putting all speculation to rest, Jayalalithaa loyalist O. Panneerselvam, takes oath as the next Chief Minister. His tenure, as will later be seen, will be shorter than expected.
Dec 31, 2016: Seen as a close confidante of the former CM, Sasikala appointed as general secretary of the party. The decision was taken unanimously by AIADMK members at the party’s general council meeting.
Feb 5, 2017: Sasikala formally elected as general secretary of the party. Evoking Jayalalithaa, she said she would follow her directions in leading the AIADMK. But crisis within the party had already begun surfacing with OPS and Sasikala publicly trading charges against each other.
Feb 14, 2017: The Supreme Court set aside Karnataka High Court order, convicting Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case, in which late CM Jayalalithaa was also an accused. She is sentenced to four years in jail and barred from entering politics for 10 years. In her last stint as party secretary, Sasikala sacks Panneerselvam and 19 other rebel MLAs. Edappadi Palaniswamyi is appointed as the party secretary.
Feb 16, 2017: Palaniswami (EPS) is sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Feb 18, 2017: EPS wins the floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, proving majority by 122 votes, after the eviction of DMK members and walkout of Congress and IUML members. 11 AIADMK members, in support of OPS, voted against the Edappadi led government. By now, a clear rift in the party has led to two factions –one lead by Sasikala and Palaniswami, the other by ousted leader Panneerselvam and his team of rebel MLAs.
March 22, 2017: The Election Commission freezes the two-leaf symbol of the party, ahead of the RK Nagar by-election, the seat for which fell vacant after the death of Jayalalithaa. The rival factions had staked claim to the symbol which had come to assume significance in the heated atmosphere of Tamil Nadu politics. The EC directs the two factions to announce new names for their parties.
April 09, 2017: In a late night decision, the Election Commission cancels RK Nagar by-polls amid allegations of cash-for-votes, which were scheduled to held on April 12. An income tax raid a day ago had revealed money was being used to buy votes.
April 18, 2017: In a dramatic turn of events, Sasikala is thrown out of the party in a midnight coup. The two camps talk of merger, with a precondition by Panneerselvam to oust Sasikala and her nephew Dhinakaran.
April 21, 2017: After sidelining Sasikala and Dhinakaran, the two camps of AIADMK plan a committee to discuss the merger. According to their truce plan, Panneerselvam will become Palaniswami’s deputy.
Aug 22, 2017: A union is announced between the two factions. Panneerselvam sworn in as Deputy CM. 19 MLAs supporting ousted member Dhinakaran withdraw support to the now-united EPS government.
Sept 12, 2017: Sasikala removed as interim general secretary of the party. This time, the decision was taken in the general council meeting headed by OPS-EPS. Panneerselvam adopted a resolution disqualifying the decisions she took since December 30,2016.
Sept 18, 2017: Eighteen MLAs, who owed allegiance to Dhinakaran, are disqualified by the Speaker, effectively giving Edappadi Panaliswami a majority in the Assembly. The 234-member house is reduced to 215. With the support of 114 MLAs, the AIADMK comfortably crosses the half-way mark of 109. The disqualification was challenged in the Madras High Court.
Dec 24, 2017: Dhinakaran’s party, with election cooker as its symbol, sweeps the RK Nagar bypoll.
March 15, 2018: Dhinakaran launches his own party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.
June 14, 2018: The Madras High Court delivers a split verdict in the disqualification of MLAs case. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee ruled in favour of the Speaker’s decision, while Justice Sundar was against it. Justice Huluvadi Ramesh nominated a third judge as she was part of the split order.
Oct 25, 2018: The Madras High Court upheld the disqualification of the 18 rebel MLAs