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The uncertainty associated with the longevity of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly remained unresolved as the Madras High Court on Thursday adjourned the individual petitions filed by 21 DMK legislators challenging the proceedings initiated against them by the Privileges Committee for having displayed the banned gutkha sachets in the House.
Justice K Ravichandrababu deferred the hearing after Vijay Narayan, advocate general, sought time to file the counter affidavit. Justice M Duraiswamy had on September 8 restrained the Privilege Committee from proceeding against the legislators and had said that his order would be in place until further orders in this case. The MLAs had contended that the Privilege Committee’s move to disqualify them was with an eye on winning the trust vote in the House as and when it was held.
The Edappadi Palaniswamy Government was facing an internal rebellion as 18 MLAs of the ruling AIADMK had submitted letters to the then Governor C Vidhyasagar Rao stating that they were withdrawing support to the Chief Minister. The DMK had written to the then Governor demanding the convening of the Assembly for a trust vote.
“The Edappadi Palaniswamy Government has lost majority in the House following the decision by the 18 AIADMK MLAs to rebel against it,” DMK leader MK Stalin had stated in his letter. The then Governor reportedly told a delegation of Opposition parties that called on him that it was an internal matter of the AIADMK and the ball was not in his court. Meanwhile P Dhanapal, Speaker of the Assembly, disqualified from the House the 18 AIADMK MLAs who had written to the then Governor. The MLAs challenged their disqualification in the Madras HC and the matter is being heard by the court which has asked the Election Commission of India not to proceed with its plan for by election in the Assembly constituencies represented by the ousted MLAs.
The court is also hearing a petition filed by the DMK asking for an immediate floor test to decide the fate of the Government. The survival of the Edappadi Palaniswamy Government depends on the outcome of these cases making Tamil Nadu a peculiar entity where the judiciary would decide the fate of the present legislative Assembly. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has an effective strength of 234 members. With the demise of J Jayalalithaa, the total strength stands at 233.
Since M Karunanidhi, the DMK patriarch, is bed-ridden due to age related aliments, he would not be in a position to attend the House, which means that the preset strength of the Assembly is 232. Which means the present Government needs
support of 117 MLAs to survive a trust vote. The Opposition DMK alliance has 97 MLAs. If the Madras HC negates the disqualification of the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs and the Privilege Committee move against the 21 DMK MLAs, the Government would collapse.
Meanwhile, hectic parleys were on in the AIADMK camp led by disposed general secretary VK Sasikala who was in Chennai for five days on parole. She returned to prison on Thursday after being with her husband M Natarajan who is recovering in a city hospital after kidney and liver transplant.
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