In yet another political crisis in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister EK Palaniswami seems to have fallen short of the simple majority in Tamil Nadu Assembly after AIADMK MLAs loyal to sidelined party supremo VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran withdrew support from the government yesterday. This came a day after two AIADMK factions - each led by Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam - announced their merger with the latter joining the government.
19 AIADMK MLAs, considered loyal to Dhinakaran yesterday met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and told him that they have lost confidence in the Chief Minister, prompting the opposition DMK to demand a trust vote. The MLAs later proceeded to a resort in the neighbouring Puducherry.
Althogh there was no clarity on the number of MLAs staying at the resort, the Dhinakaran camp had on Monday claimed support of 25 AIADMK legislators.
"We are going to initiate efforts to bring in a new chief minister with the help of our supporting MLAs," Dhinakaran's supporter and Andipatti MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan said.
"We have informed the governor that we don't have confidence in the chief minister," Selvan said after the meeting with Rao.
Selvan said the purpose of meeting the governor was to force Palaniswami to seek a trust vote.
DMK demands trust vote
Seeking to fish in troubled waters, principal opposition party DMK shot off a letter to the governor demanding that the Assembly be convened and Palaniswami directed to prove his majority.
DMK working president and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly M K Stalin, in a letter to Rao, said that "consequent upon identical letters given by 22 MLAs to the governor expressing lack of confidence in the chief minister, an unprecedented constitutional crisis has erupted."
He cited a similar occasion in Karnataka when the governor of that state had directed the then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the House.
Any inordinate delay in asking the chief minister to prove majority would pave the way for continuance of an "unconstitutional" government, Stalin said in the letter.
"As the leader of Opposition, I therefore request the governor to direct Palaniswami to prove his majority in the House immediately," Stalin said.
DMK will take a "good decision" on the trust vote at an appropriate time, he later told reporters.
Numbers in Tamil Nadu Assembly
In the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs, excluding the Speaker. Late chief minister Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency is still vacant. The DMK has 89 seats followed by its allies Congress eight and IUML one.
DMK's Stalin has claimed that besides 19 AIADMK MLAs who met the Governor, three others have also withdrawn support, taking the number to 22.
Palaniswami needs support of at least 117 MLAs to win the trust vote in the House with the strength of 233 members. Excluding the 19 Dhinakaran camp MLAs, the CM enjoys the support of 115 legislators, two short of the simple majority. If Stalin's claim is correct and there are 22 MLAs who have withdrawn support, the gap widens to five votes.
(With PTI inputs)