Finally, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami comfortably won the trust vote in the Assembly today with 122 MLAs supporting his confidence motion with only 11 members voting against it.
However, the unprecedented ruckus in the Assembly with the DMK legislators throwing chairs and smashing microphones ensured that February 18 will be remembered in the annals of Tamil Nadu politics as a black day, for sure.
Sadly, both the Speaker P Dhanapal and DMK Working President MK Stalin displayed their torn clothes and accused their political opponents of indulging in physical violence in the House.
The question is – can the elected representatives be permitted to indulge in violence for settling political battles?
One may or may not like Sasikala or her brand of politics but it was clear right from the beginning of this political drama that she had the support of the majority of AIADMK MLAs.
Some political observers and even celebrities like Kamal Hassan pointed out that she lacked the popular support among the electorate.
However, in a democracy, the rules of the game cannot be changed conveniently. The constitution clearly says that it’s the elected MLAs who have the prerogative of electing the Chief Minister. And the loyalty and preference of a majority of AIADMK legislators was never in doubt.
Therefore, when the AIADMK MLAs elected E Palaniswami as their leader post conviction of Sasikala by the Supreme Court in the DA case, the rebel faction should have gracefully accepted the decision.
It’s true that allegations of MLAs being forcibly kept in a resort outside Chennai were levelled but it should not be overlooked that the Police Commissioner himself informed the Madras High Court that the MLAs claimed to be staying at the resort of their own volition.
However, both O Panneerselvam and MK Stalin continued to believe that the Sasikala faction of AIADMK legislatures will split once “Chinamma” was sent to the jail.
It seems that they overlooked the hard reality that the MLAs were not willing to face elections so early, when almost four and a half year of their tenure was still to expire. The fear to face the electorate within a year appears to have convinced the majority of AIADMK MLAs against opting for a risky experiment like siding with a political lightweight like O Pannerselvam who lacked political support base of his own.
Moreover, their solidarity with Sasikala was primarily because she mentored most of them right from the time Jayalalithaa was alive.
Sensing that they were in a hopeless minority, the DMK legislators along with the 11 AIADMK MLAs belonging to Pannerselvam factions decided to disrupt the Assembly proceedings and broke all norms of parliamentary decency.
The people of Tamil Nadu are watching every move of these politicians and they will give their judgement on this political battle at an appropriate time but no one has the right to use the ‘will of the electorate’ as a fig leaf to shame the democracy by indulging in violence in the ‘temple of democracy’.