Cheni, Feb 18: Tamil du Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday comfortably won the vote of confidence in the state assembly, with the proceedings marred by pandemonium that saw the opposition DMK evicted by the Speaker, and the Congress too walked out.
Palaniswami, who was sworn in on Thursday as Chief Minister, won with 122 votes in favour and 11 votes against. The 11 opposing votes were cast by the rival AIADMK camp led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.
Palaniswami belongs to the AIADMK faction led by party General Secretary V.K. Sasikala. The end came tamely after DMK’s 88 members, who were present were ordered to be evicted by Speaker P. Dhapal after they indulged in a ruckus. After that Congress legislators walked out in protest, dashing Panneerselvam’s hopes. The AIADMK camp led by Sasikala was obviously happy and distributed sweets. “The traitors were defeated,” A. vaneethakrishn, part of Sasikala camp told reporters here. After winning the confidence vote, a happy Palaniswami went to the memorial of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Mari beach and paid homage to her. Speaking to reporters he said: “The people of Tamil du are happy.” He said party General Secretary V.K. Sasikala’s vow here couple of days back has come true. Panneerselvam alleged that the floor test was conducted after the eviction of Opposition members and went against democratic norms. “Dharma has been momentarily eclipsed but it shall win filly,” he said.
The chaos of the assembly proceedings spilt over to Mari beach where DMK party chief M.K. Stalin had moved along with his party legislators to protest against the manner in which the DMK legislators were evicted from the state assembly. Stalin, along with party MLAs, sat on protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the Mari beach. Police later took the DMK MLAs into custody. DMK supporters blocked the police vehicles at the venue. Earlier, Stalin met Tamil du Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao and lodged a complaint against the happenings in the assembly. Speaking to reporters after he and his party legislators were evicted from the assembly, Stalin said the party had demanded secret ballot to decide on the motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister Palaniswami.
The DMK leader said he sat in protest inside the assembly to press his demand. Stalin alleged he was forcibly evicted by the marshals and suffered injuries while his shirt was damaged. He also alleged that the party legislators were assaulted by the marshals. In the morning, soon after the assembly began, Palaniswami moved the confidence motion, which was followed by heated arguments started by DMK supremo Stalin urging Speaker Dhapal to allow secret ballot.
The Speaker, who belongs to the Sasikala camp, stood his ground and said that legislators could not interfere with his powers. He also questioned the need for urgency in seeking a confidence vote when Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao had given 15 days time to Palaniswami. As the AIADMK lawmakers supporting Chief Minister Palaniswami remained silent, the DMK legislators surrounded Dhapal shouting slogans. They tore the assembly agenda papers and some flung the mikes and chairs. When the marshals tried to escort Dhapal out, DMK members pulled him back to his chair. One DMK MLA sat on the Speaker’s chair in protest. Dhapal first adjourned the House till 1 p.m. and later till 3 p.m. Former Chief Minister Panneerselvam also demanded secret ballot. Ahead of the vote, Palaniswami’s AIADMK faction suffered two jolts when Arun Kumar, a legislator from Coimbatore North, jumped ship, and AIADMK legislator representing Mylapore constituency and former Director General of Police (DGP) R. taraj said he would vote against Palaniswami. (IANS)