Governance comes first

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Governance comes first

As Tamil Nadu convulses again, a stable governance should be top priority now

What’s happening in Tamil Nadu’s political corridors is only expected and just the next ring in the maze of stalled governance since the death of Jayalalithaa last December. With Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualifying 18 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislators owing allegiance to sacked party leader TTV Dhinakaran, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam waiting in the wings to extend the chaos by debating an en masse resignation of its MLAs in protest against what they call the “murder of democracy”, it is a long haul for stability in the Assembly. With the matter now in the High Court, one will have to wait and watch whether the EPS Government lives to serve another day, or the State and its people will continue to live with governance paralysis before hurtling into a highly unnecessary, unscheduled and expensive mid-term election for which, no party is ready. The disqualified MLAs are shouting from rooftops that they may have revolted against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami but had done nothing to violate the party whip inviting provisions of the anti-defection law under which they have been “unreasonably disqualified”. With the disqualification, Palaniswami now needs only 108 MLAs to prove his majority in the House whenever the floor test is conducted. The Speaker’s action seems in the right direction if seen in the context of the long eluding stability urgently required for democratic governance of Tamil Nadu. As for the EPS and OPS factions’ point of view, Dhinakaran group's activities, like going to the Governor to express opposition to the Chief Minister, amply indicated anti-party activity under which the Speaker is well within his rights to disqualify them. Also, with no one wanting a mid-term poll, a stable Government is in the interest of all parties concerned.

It is now up to the High Court to chart the future course of political proceedings in the next chapter of Tamil Nadu’s political goings-on. However, Palaniswami has an edge here on two counts. If the court throws out Dhinakaran’s appeal and upholds the disqualification, well and good for the faction in power which would then need only 108 MLAs to prove simple majority in a shrunk House, a figure it has. If the court stays the Speaker’s decision, legally there can be no floor test, which would mean the Government survives for now. The BJP at the Centre is pitching for immediate reinstatement of governance at the expense of petty party politics and factional attrition within the AIADMK. Palaniswamy's camp will draw confidence from the precedent in Karnataka where the High Court upheld the disqualification of 11 BJP legislators in the Yeddyurappa Government even though the decision was turned down by the Supreme Court. The ADMK convulsions are party-time for the Opposition DMK, which has called an urgent huddle to discuss how it can get its pound of flesh from the intra-party chaos of its long-time foe, orphaned after the death of its unquestioned, “eternal” Secretary-General Jayalalithaa. The disqualification move by the Speaker may have taken the DMK by surprise as the numbers now suggest that the Government may not even need a floor test. All said, the first priority of any party at the helm needs to be governance and no amount of political influx, natural or engineered, should be allowed to come in the path of an elected Government in performing its duties to the State.

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