Chennai: Hours before the newly appointed Palaniswami cabinet going for a floor test, Opposition DMK and its ally Congress on Friday posed a threat to the Tamil Nadu government by deciding to vote against the Chief Minister.
For an already worried Palaniswami who is struggling to keep the flock of his supporters together at Golden Bay Resorts till the time of vote of confidence scheduled for Saturday, the Opposition's decision brings about another reason to spend a sleepless night.
The Palaniswami camp already got a jolt when one of its MLAs R. Natraj, a former state DGP, said he would vote against the chief minister's motion of confidence. Natraj's move has reduced Palaniswami's stated support to 123 members in a House of 234.
The floor test in the Assembly will be the first such exercise the state will witness in about 30 years.
"I am constrained to vote against the motion of confidence to be moved by the Edappadi K Palaniswami government, I have interacted with people in my constituency and their considered and overwhelming opinion is that the government of O. Panneerselvam should continue and I have to reflect this opinion of the people in the Assembly," Natraj, a Mylapore MLA, told PTI.
DMK working president Stalin who stated in the morning that his party would stay away from the motion of confidence changed his stand by the evening and said they will participate and vote against the motion. The party has 89 MLAs in the house and its ally Congress has eight. Another non-mainstream party has one MLA who may also side with the Opposition.
If the Panneerselvam group can sustain its claimed strength of 11 MLAs till the time of voting, and nine more could be attracted into their camp, the Palaniswami government will be defeated leading to yet another power tussle. The dissidence in the ruling party already came to the fore with the open revolt of Natraj, who had been an avowed loyalist of Sasikala all these days.
The Opposition’s strength has now increased to 109 while the magic number in TN Assembly is 117; just nine short of defeating the government.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India sent notices to VK Sasikala asking her explaination on why her election as the general secretary of AIADMK may not be set aside on the grounds of violation of their party rules. Panneerselvam challenged her election as she was elected by party's executive council while the party rules clearly state that the all-powerful general secretary should be elected by primary members. The EC has asked her to submit her explaination by February 28.
Going by all these developments, the floor test of the Palaniswami government is not going to be a smooth sail. Though he was given 15 days to prove strength, Palaniswami decided to go for a floor test on Saturday to preempt any efforts by Panneerselvam to garner more strength by luring MLAs from his camp. Also, it is becoming a difficult task for Palaniswami to 'maintain' the MLAs camped at the resorts.