No one can topple govt, says Palaniswami; Dhinakaran blames Guv's 'delay' for disqualification of MLAs

Turmoil in AIADMK continues unabated.

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No one can topple govt, says Palaniswami; Dhinakaran blames Guv's 'delay' for disqualification of MLAs

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Monday asserted that his government could not be toppled, though some forces harboured such hopes.

"Some think the government can be toppled. That is never possible as workers and supporters have put in their hard work for its formation," he said in a veiled attack on sidelined party leader T T V Dhinkaran who is seeking his ouster. Those who believe AIADMK could be broken, such a thought will remain a 'day dream', the chief minister said at a function in his native district here. His comments came on a day when 18 AIADMK MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran were disqualified in the midst of the escalating tussle for supremacy in the party.

"Not just the government or the party but not even a single AIADMK supporter could be bought," Palaniswami, who has been targeting the opposition DMK in recent days, asserted. Referring to the merger of the two factions led by himself and his deputy O Panneerselvam on August 21, he said "those who parted ways united," and assured "we will rerieve the lost (Two Leaves) symbol." The party is being steered with the blessings of AIADMK stalwarts, its founder M G Ramachandran and late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, he said.

The chief minister also trained his guns against AIADMK's archrival DMK, saying the main opposition party's attempts to capture power had been "shattered" by the AIADMK supporters. Following the earlier split in the party, DMK had ambitions of capturing power, but that could not happen as supporter of "Amma" (late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa) had "shattered" them, he said. "Today many think this (AIADMK) party can be broken, that it can be finished. But that will never happen. As long as people's support is there, this party cannot be shaken or even touched by anybody," he said. 

Dhinkaran unhappy with Governor

Sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran today claimed that legislators supporting him would not have been disqualified had Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao acted on time on their plea against Chief Minister K Palaniswami. "Because the Governor made unnecessary delay despite knowing that Palaniswami did not have the 117 magic number, such a murder of democracy has happened," he alleged.

Since August 22, when 19 of the MLAs revolted against Palaniswami and sought his removal with Rao, the governor was aware that the chief minister lacked the "magic number of 117", the simple majority in the 234-member House, he claimed.One MLA later switched over to the Palaniswami camp. The combative Dhinakaran, engaged in a tussle for power with Palaniswami, claimed initially MLAs of his camp had met the governor at his insistence and that later he himself had knocked on the doors of Rao. "Such mishaps (today's disqualification of 18 MLAs) are happening due to the governor failing to maintain the dignity of his position," he told reporters here.

Dhinakaran described as "murder of democracy" Speaker P Dhanapal disqualifying the 18 legislators owing allegiance to him and said he did not expect such an action from the former. The Dhinakaran faction, besides Opposition including DMK, have been since urging Rao to direct a floor test of the Palaniswami government. People of all walks of life were opposing the disqualification of 18 MLAs, which amounted to "stifling democracy", he said. He also said the BJP-led central government "should not close its eyes to this murder".

He claimed that some other AIADMK MLAs would also vote against the government during a possible floor test as they were against "betrayal". "It is certain that Palaniswami is going home. It will be known soon when it will happen," Dhinakaran added. He said Palaniswami had betrayed 'removed' party chief VK Sasikala, as it was she who had identified him as O Panneerselvam's successor, following the now deputy chief minister's rebellion in February.

He said Sasikala accepted the post of party general secretary only after "much pleading" by AIADMK leaders who conveyed to her the decision taken at its General Council last December following the death of her predecessor and then chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Dhinakaran said a situation to that of 1987 had come up, referring to the rebellion in the AIADMK following the death of party founder MG Ramachandran. The party had split into two factions, each headed by Jayalalithaa and Ramachandran's widow Janaki.

Jayalalithaa, however, later managed to unify the different factions. Dhinakaran also exuded confidence of "attaining success" in "sending Palaniswami home".

Opposition says 'murder of democracy':

Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu today slammed the disqualification of 18 MLAs belonging to sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran's camp by Speaker P Dhanapal, calling it "a murder of democracy." DMK working president M K Stalin demanded resignation of Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Speaker Dhanapal.

Stalin, who is Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, described the disqualification as "a brutal murder of democracy." He said "Speaker P Dhanapal has lost the moral right to continue in his office," and demanded his "immediate resignation." Also, he wanted Palaniswami to voluntarily quit office for allegedly trying to hold a floor test through "horse-trading," and "illegal disqualification." In a statement, the DMK leader said the disqualification showed the "cowardice," of the Palaniswami regime in facing the House and winning (floor test) and said the government will be defeated in the people's court.

He said the government is in a situation to prove its majority and the present action was a "short-cut" towards achieving it. According to the Constitution, Stalin said, only if an MLA leaves the party or if he voted in House violating the party whip, could a member be disqualified. Disqualifying the 18 MLAs for petitioning Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao showed the "unabashed enactment of the murder of Parliamentary democracy," he said.

The action against the 18 MLAs, who had revolted against Palaniswami last month, was taken under anti-defection and disqualification rules of 1986, said a statement from Assembly Secretary K Bhoopathy. Stalin claimed that the disqualification went against the anti-defection law and a verdict of the Supreme Court. He said the apex court had held in a case involving former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa that (MLAs) telling the governor that they do not have faith in chief minister does not become "defection."

He said "the Speaker was not worried," about a petition given by ruling party (Dhinakaran loyalists) MLAs seeking disqualification of O Panneerselvam and his supporters who had voted against the Palaniswami regime in March. Tracing the month-long political turbulence in Tamil Nadu which began with 19 ruling party MLAs submitting a plea to the governor seeking the ouster of Palaniswami, he said the Centre and Rao should own "full responsibility" for the "extraordinary political situation," in Tamil Nadu.

Later, speaking to reporters, he said a meeting of DMK legislators will be held tomorrow to discuss the development. To a question on convening an all party meeting and going to the people's court on the issue, he said "expect it...we will invite you." Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasar said the government cannot continue without proving majority. Stating that the disqualification may not stand legal scrutiny, he said his party will deliberate with allies including DMK on the matter.

PMK chief S Ramadoss described the disqualification as "murder of democracy". The action against the 18 MLAs will not "match" with any provisions of the anti-defection law, he said. The action taken by the speaker on a plea of government chief whip S Rajendran was "flawed," he said adding MLAs can be disqualfied only if they act against the whip in the House. He said the "people desired" that the government should immediately quit. "This is not shocking. This is being done to retain power," said VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan.

CPI (M) State Secretary G Ramakrishnan said the disqualification has "ulterior political motives and against democracy." MLA and ally of AIADMK and M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) said "the 18 MLAs did not join any other political party."

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