Palaniswami wins trust vote 122-11
The Edappadi K Palaniswami government on Saturday won the confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly by a comfortable 122-11 margin amid high drama and bedlam in the House.
The vote was preceded by the eviction of the DMK, the main Opposition party, and a walk-out by its allies, in protest. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies have 98 legislators in the 234-member House. One seat is vacant.
Only 11 members voted for O Panneerselvam, who had become Chief Minister after the December 5 death of his mentor Jayalalithaa, then resigned in favour of Sasikala, who took over the reins of the ruling All India Anna DMK. Panneerselvam rebelled against Sasikala and joined the race.
Last week, Sasikala, a confidante of Jayalalitha, had herded 120-odd MLAs of her party to a resort 90 km from the capital as she made a bid for the Chief Minister's post. She had to go back to jail when the Supreme Court overturned her acquittal in a corruption case.
Her flock, now under Palaniswami, came to the Assembly on Saturday morning, but not before losing some members to the Panneerselvam camp.
The House had to be adjourned twice after the DMK and some allies, as well as Panneerselvam, demanded secret voting, and more time so that members could go back to their constituencies and take the opinion of the people.
Speaker P Dhanapal rejected their demand. As he got pushed around in the commotion, marshalls stepped in and escorted him out. At this point, there was no clarity on whether the House had been adjourned or not.
The House met again shortly thereafter, but the commotion continued. The Speaker rejected the Opposition's demand, saying there was no provision for a secret ballot. He asked Palaniswami to move the confidence motion, which the Chief Minister duly did.
This sparked a fresh commotion, prompting the Speaker to order the eviction of the DMK members. As the DMK members resisted the attempts by the House marshalls to remove them, the Speaker left the House saying the proceedings would resume at 3 pm.
Torn shirts of Speaker P Dhanapal and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin, toppled chairs, strewn paper pieces and displacement of mikes bore testimony to a virtual war-like situation in the Assembly.
As soon as the proceedings resumed at 3 pm, the Speaker allowed Panneerselvam, Congress Legislature Party Leader K R Ramasamy and another member to make some brief remarks before going for the voting, which was taken up as division. Soon after his announcement, the quorum bell rang thrice and all the entry points to the House were closed.
After voting, the Speaker announced that the Palaniswami Ministry received 122 in support and 11 against, drawing thunderous applause from the ruling benches with some MLAs also hailing late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Soon after the Speaker declared the result, Panneerselvam said his faction still has time to prove and that in the end "dharma" will only win. A seemingly distraught OPS questioned the validity of the floor test and said DMK MLAs kept repeating their request for three hours to save democracy.