111 MLAs attend meet convened by TN CM K Palaniswami

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister 'Edappadi' K Palaniswami along with ministers during the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday. PTI Photo R Senthil Kumar(PTI2_16_2017_000191B)

Chennai: As many as 111 of the 134 MLAs of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu attended a party legislators’ meet convened by Chief Minister K Palaniswami here today and adopted a resolution reposing faith in his leadership, said a senior party leader.

The presence of 111 MLAs at the meet is seen as a boost to Palaniswami even as the state’s top law officer said a situation to prove the majority has not arrived, amid demands by opposition DMK he seek a floor test in the Assembly. An earlier meeting on August 28 reportedly had a much less attendance with some claiming that only 75 MLAs were present.

State Fisheries Minister and senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar told reporters that as many as 111 MLAs reposed their faith in the chief minister at the meeting. The AIADMK has 134 MLAs in the 234-member state Assembly with one vacancy.

Jayakumar said the MLAs had “wholeheartedly extended their full cooperation” to the chief minister and an unanimous resolution was adopted reposing faith in his leadership.

He also claimed that nine MLAs of the Dhinakaran camp had contacted Palaniswami over phone and extended their support to him.

Also, three MLAs who are allies of the ruling party had promised their support to Palaniswami, he added.

AIADMK’s Peravurani MLA had intimated that he would not be able to attend the meet as he was indisposed, Jayakumar said.

Jayakumar alleged that some legislators had been “illegally confined against their wishes” (at Puducherry) and asserted the meeting signalled that the hopes of those who want to “thrust” an election on the people will be dashed.

State Advocate General Vijay Narayan told the Madras High Court that the revolt by 19 AIADMK MLAs of the Dhinakaran camp against the chief minister was an ‘intra-party affair’ and the Governor could not interfere in the matter.

He made the submission while arguing on the maintainability of a PIL, which sought a direction to the Governor to order a floor test in the Assembly.

When the matter came up before the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder, the A-G, who appeared on behalf of the Governor, said that the letter given by 19 MLAs was not against the Government, but “only against the person who is the present Chief Minister.”

He further argued that it was an intra-party affair and the Governor cannot interfere in it.

The AG further said that a situation to prove the majority has not arrived and also that he would like to argue on the maintainability of the PIL, following which the court adjourned the matter to October 3.

The petitioner Pugazhenthi, an advocate, had filed the PIL, citing the latest political development in AIADMK where 19 party MLAs had submitted letters to Governor Vidyasagar Rao on August 22, stating that they did not have confidence in the chief minister.

Earlier, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that the Governor was bound to call for a floor test in the light of the stand by the dissident MLAs.

Claiming that the MLAs had given individual letters to the Governor, the petitioner argued that the Governor had ‘unfortunately’ not taken any steps to conduct the floor test.

The dissident MLAs, who had been served notice by Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal on a plea that they be disqualified, meanwhile, sought 15 more days for their individual appearance.

The legislators owing allegiance to AIADMK (Amma) Deputy General Secretary T T V Dhinakaran said that they had already submitted a reply to the August 24 notice by the Speaker on a plea from Chief Government Whip S Rajendran seeking their disqualification.

Dhinakaran loyalists Thangatamilselvan and P Vetrivel met officials at the Speaker’s office and presented a request in this regard.

Thangatamilselvan later told reporters that the MLAs received another communication recently calling for their individual appearance on September 7 over the issue.

“We need some clarification. So we informed we can’t come on September 7 and told them we need 15 days time,” he said.

Seeking to crack down on the 19 pro-Dhinakaran AIADMK MLAs, Rajendran had sought their disqualification for alleged anti-party activities and Dhanapal had issued notice to the MLAs that day itself.

The MLAs had earlier revolted against the chief minister, informing the Governor that they had lost confidence in him and that they wanted him to be removed from the post.

Palaniswami and Dhinakaran are involved in a tussle for power even as opposition parties, including DMK, have been demanding that the Governor direct a floor test for the state government in the assembly to prove its strength.