AIADMK rebels refuse to bend even as party moves to expel Sasikala & Dinakaran
The reunited AIADMK has decided to call the general council and executive to consider action against already sidelined disputed general secretary VK Sasikala and her deputy TTV Dinakaran.
This decision has been met with derision from the rebel camp, who have said that only the general secretary can call for a general council meeting.
The party’s MPs, MLAs and other office-bearers, who met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, reaffirmed the decision taken at the last meeting of 8 August to sideline the two.
The party has still not explicitly said that it would expel the two, nor did it say when the general council would meet. It's likely that the party is hesitating before striking at Sasikala, not simply because of the legal issues involved, but out of fear that it may only result in strengthening Dinakaran's camp.
At the meeting on 28 August, which was attended by nearly 200 office-bearers, AIADMK also decided to take control of the party mouthpieces - Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR - from Dinakaran.
All appointments to and removals from the party made by Dinakaran were also declared invalid on the grounds that he had no locus standi.
Reacting to the decisions, rebel legislator Thanga Tamil Selvam said if the party wishes to call the general council in the absence of the general secretary, they should letters saying so from at least one-fourth of the members as well as get Sasikala’s approval.
With regard to the decision to gain control of Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR, he said: "They don’t even know these are private entities." Both the television channel and newspaper were reportedly started and funded by Sasikala and Dinakaran.
Reacting to the other decision that the appointments and removals made by Dinakaran have no legal validity, Thanga Selvam said even those who had proposed the resolutions were appointees of Sasikala.
A sticky situation
AIADMK has dithered for long on the sticky question of taking firm action against Sasikala and Dinakaran. This is largely because Sasikala was appointed by the general council and executive in February before the split, and the appointment had been endorsed then by both Palanisami and Panneerselvam.
It was only after Sasikala forced Panneerselvam to resign as chief minister that he revolted, leading to the split in the party.
Thanga Selvam said the party had not disclosed who the MPs and MLAs are that attended the meeting. There was no proper notice for the meeting, nor proper invitation, he said.
The party, by another resolution, asked all office-bearers to ensure that the present government lasts its full term till 2021.
This is because the government has been reduced to minority after the letters given by 19 pro-Dinakaran MLAs to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, informing him that they have lost confidence in the Chief Minister.
In all, 30 MLAs stayed away from today’s meeting. Two others who were leaning towards lending support to Dinakaran, attended the party meet.
For the Governor, this is enough reason to debate whether or not a floor test should be help in the wake of the withdrawal of support from 19 MLAs.
The Palanisami government has survived so far with the support of 122 MLAs, all supporters of Sasikala. The merger with the OPS faction brought the support of only another 10 MLAs, but this has been offset by the 19 members pulling out.
As the government has a mandate to rule till 2021, MLAs may hesitate to pull the plug. To reassure them, Dinakaran has told them that he is only seeking to replace the Chief Minister and not looking for a change of government.
He has cited the Karnataka parallel where 10 dissident BJP legislators were disqualified after they told the governor that they had lost faith in Chief Minister S Y Yeddyurappa. The Speaker’s order was quashed by the Supreme Court in 2011.
The 19 MLAs, who have been served a similar disqualification notice by Speaker S Dhanapal, have also cited this Supreme Court ruling.
The DMK-led opposition delegation has told the governor that continuance of this minority government will lead to horse trading and will affect governance.
For now, the ball is in the Governor’s court.