Tamil Nadu speaker P Dhanapal on Wednesday suspended all 89 DMK MLAs for a week from the Assembly for continuous disruption of proceedings.
Trouble erupted during the debate on demands for grants for the Housing and IT departments when AIADMK member S Gunasekaran, without naming Stalin, made some remarks about the ‘Namaku Naame’ programme undertaken by the DMK Treasurer in the run up to this year’s assembly election.
During the ‘Namakku Naame’ programme, Stalin had extensively toured the state and interacted with people. The remarks about the programme triggered strong objection from the DMK members who wanted the Speaker to expunge them.
Dhanapal, however, said the MLA had not made any pointed reference to anyone and therefore there was no need to expunge the remarks. DMK Deputy Leader Durai Murugan said Namakku Naame was an initiative of Stalin and therefore the remarks refer only to him and sought their expunction.
At one point, Stalin himself rose and said he was proud that Namakku Naamme had featured in an assembly debate. He also made some remarks which were later expunged by the Speaker.
Following this, the DMK members stood up and opposed the Speaker’s action even as Dhanapal asked them to cooperate in the smooth conduct of the House. Since the DMK members did not heed his repeated pleas, he summoned the marshals to evict the agitating MLAs. Stalin, who was physically removed, staged a brief sit-in before being finally taken out of the House.
The Speaker later said he had to resort to such an action as the DMK members did not heed his pleas for cooperation. Leader of the House and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam then moved a resolution for the suspension of the DMK members for a week, which was passed by a voice vote in the AIADMK-dominated House. DMK has 89 members in the 234-member assembly.
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After this, the Speaker said today’s proceedings of the House have ended and asked Housing Minister Udumalpet K Radhakrishnan and IT Minister M Manikandan to give their replies to the debate on their departments on Thursday.
Talking to reporters outside the House, Stalin said that the eviction and suspension of the DMK MLAs was a planned action to prevent them from raising issues during the demand for debate for grants to the Home Department, which is being handled by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
“Though we have boycotted the Assembly proceedings following disagreements with the Speaker on a few occasions, we had shortly thereafter returned to the House to participate in the debates. We acted true to our conscience,” he said.
“Opposition members need to be treated with respect and decorum, these are people’s elected representatives,” said DMK spokesperson Manu Raj Sundaram.
(With inputs from PTI)