As 19 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to the sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran today met Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to seek the removal of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Opposition DMK has demanded that a trust vote to be held in the Assembly. DMK Working President MK Stalin has written to the Governor requesting to direct the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the assembly immediately.
"My information is that three more AIADMK MLAs have also withdrawn support, that makes it 22 MLAs in total. We demand a trust vote," Stalin said.
Of the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs excluding the Speaker. Late chief minister Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency is still vacant. Opposition DMK has 89 seats followed by its allies Congress with eight and IUML one seat.
Earlier, a group of AIADMK MLAs who support Dhinakaran the Governor and sought the removal of Palaniswami, saying the CM has lost their confidence.
The move came a day after rivals factions led by Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam merged, ending a nearly seven-month feud in a power sharing formula in the ruling party and the government with the rebel leader being made the deputy chief minister.
"We don't have confidence in the chief minister. What is the need to give the deputy chief minister's post to Panneerselvam who had levelled charges of corruption against this government earlier," an MLA, who was part of the team that met the governor, said requesting anonymity.
He said 122 AIADMK MLAs had supported Palaniswami at the behest of jailed party chief VK Sasikala during the February 18 trust vote while Panneerselvam had voted against the government.
He said the chief minister should have held consultations with all the party MLAs before the merger of the two factions. "So we have briefed the governor and said that the chief minister should be removed," the MLA added.
The MLA lashed out at Panneerselvam, alleging that he had accepted the merger "only for posts" and asked if this was the deputy chief minister's "dharma yudh" as claimed by him earlier.
Raj Bhavan sources confirmed that the meeting took place between the MLAs and the governor, but did not divulge details, including about the number of the delegation. Yesterday, around 18 MLAs were reported to have attended a meeting held by Dhinakaran, the party's deputy general secretary and nephew of party chief V K Sasikala, at his residence.
One of the MLAs P Vetrivel had last night claimed that Dhinakaran enjoyed the support of 25 MLAs.
Dhinakaran says AIADMK merger 'betrayal' of Gen Secy Sasikala
Dhinkaran has dubbed the merger of two factions of the AIADMK as a "betrayal" of party general secretary V K Sasikala.
Breaking his silence on the sudden developments leading to the merger of the factions led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam yesterday, Dhinakaran, in a series of tweets last night, also questioned the durability of the arrangement.
"It is not a merger. It is a commercial agreement reached for self-interest and hunger for positions and to protect posts," he claimed.
Stating that his political journey would continue, he vowed to protect the party and retrieve its "Two Leaves" symbol which has been frozen by the Election Commission ahead of the now cancelled April 14 byelection to R K Nagar Assembly constituency.
Dhinakaran, nephew of Sasiakala, said he was suffering from sore throat and fever and had been advised rest and would meet media tomorrow.
"Only god knows how long this (merger) will hold. In 1989, in deference to the wishes of cadres, Amma (late chief minister Jayalalithaa) was accepted as the general secretary and all united under her leadership," he said.
Dhinakaran was referring to the then reunification of the party after a split following the death of AIADMK founder and late chief minister M G Ramachandran in December 1987.
The split ensued after Ramachandran's wife Janaki was appointed chief minister and Jayalalithaa claimed the support of the cadres.
"But today, the cadres cannot digest the merger which is accompanied with the announcement that steps would be taken to expel the general secretary (Sasikala) who was accepted by themselves," he claimed, adding that it was a "betrayal".
Dhinakaran claimed not only the AIADMK cadres, but even the public would not forgive "those who betrayed the general secretary who made Pannerselvam and Palaniswami the chief ministers after the death of Jayalalithaa".
Charging that it was Panneerselvam who was instrumental in the freezing of the AIADMK symbol, he sought to know how the cadres would accept it.
"How can they (Palaniswami camp) join hands with Panneerselvam who till yesterday was branding the regime ruling the state as corrupt," he said.
(With PTI inputs)