The Palanisami government on Saturday won the confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly by a comfortable 122-11 margin after high drama and bedlam in the House. The vote was preceded by eviction of principal opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, which have 98 legislators in the 234-member House, in protest.
Former Chief Minister Panneerselvam could muster only 11 votes, ending the prolonged stalemate triggered by his rebellion and by the conviction of AIADMK chief V K Sasikala after being elected the Legislature Party leader.
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, while appointing Edappadi K Palanisami as the chief minister after he was propped by Sasikala, had given him 15 days time to prove his majority.
The vote was taken after two adjournments due to pandemonium and charges of attacks by DMK members. Speaker P Dhanapal and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin said their shirts were torn in the fracas in the House.
As per media reports, DMK leader MK Stalin immediately dashed off to the Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor and complain about the incidents. Tight security was in place outside the Assembly to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of the do or die battle for the pro-Sasikala government. When the Assembly met for the day, Speaker P Dhanapal assured the members that they would be provided proper security.
As per local media outlets, the assembly witnessed unruly scenes with the opposition members insisting on a secret vote and wanting MLAs to be allowed to visit their constituencies and meet the people before they cast their vote. This was, however, rejected by the Speaker who went on with the Floor Test when the House reassembled at 3 pm.
Claiming majority support, Panneerselvam, who had claimed he was forced to resign as chief minister, had met the Governor twice earlier during the month. Just hours ahead of the voting, the Palanisami camp received a jolt when Coimbatore North MLA Arun Kumar left saying he would abstain from voting.
On Friday, MLA from Mylpore constituency in Chennai, R Nataraj had said he would vote against the chief minister’s motion of confidence. Ailing DMK supremo M Karunanidhi did not attend the proceedings.
The floor test in the Assembly was the first such exercise in the state in about 30 years. Panneerselvam had vowed to continue his fight against Sasikala and her family “till the time Amma (Jayalalithaa) regime is restored.