Palaniswamy govt wins trust vote

R Balaji Chennai | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 18, 2017

Oppostion leader MK Stalin comes out of the Assembly with a torn shirt.

A file picture of the Tamil Nadu Assembly Hall it the State Secretariat at Fort St. George, Chennai

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami proved his majority support in the Assembly winning the motion of confidence with the backing of 122 AIADMK MLAs in the 234-member House.

The 11 MLAs of the rival faction in the ruling party led by O Panneerselvam, former chief minister, voted against the Motion.

Just the ruling party totalling 133 MLAs including the rival faction was present in the House when the Speaker P Dhanapal conducted the voting based on a head count.

The main opposition, DMK with 89 MLAs was evicted for stalling the proceedings by rushing to the well of the House, surrounding the Speaker and in the melee smashing furniture and mike. The Speaker adjourned the House twice but the DMK members were unrelenting in their demand.

The rest of the opposition including Congress with eight members and the lone candidate of the IUML, an ally of DMK, staged a walkout in protest.

The entire opposition including the rival faction of the AIADMK led by Panneerselvam was united in demanding that the vote on the motion of confidence be conducted through a secret ballot or that the house should be adjourned. The session could be conducted a week later after the ruling party MLAs visit their constituency and understand the voters’ sentiments, they insisted.

The special session of the Assembly was convened for Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister along with a 30-member Cabinet on Thursday, to prove his majority in the Assembly. The Governor Vidyasagar Rao had given him 15 days time for the floor test.

The Motion of Confidence was necessitated after the previous chief minister OPS, as Panneerselvam is known, had said he had been forced to resign and wished to withdraw his resignation. He claimed he had the support of the majority of AIADMK MLAs.

OPS said the majority of the MLAs had been held captive at Koovathur, (at a beach resort about 60 km South of the city) over the last 10 days. They have been brought here directly to vote without being allowed to gauge the sentiments in their constituency, he said.

OPS demanded that the vote on the Motion of Confidence be done as a secret ballot or after the MLAs get a chance to visit their constituency.

The leader of the main opposition party, MK Stalin of DMK backed this demand.

KR Ramasamy of the Congress, pointed out that since the AIADMK came to power in the 2016 elections there have frequent changes in the chief minister’s post. MLAs need to visit their constituency, why were they prevented, he asked.

Ramasamy also urged the Speaker to go for a secret ballot or adjourn the session for a week.

K.A.M. Muhammed Abubacker of the IUML said this is the third chief minister to take over in nine months. Only a secret ballot could ensure members vote independently, he said.

Soon pandemonium broke out as DMK members rushed to the well of the House and surrounded the Speaker. The Speaker’s podium was pushed down and the Assembly Secretary’s desk smashed.

The Speaker adjourned the House for an hour.

Throughout the commotion, all the ruling party members sat silently without making a move.

When the House reconvened at 1pm Dhanapal said he had been hurt by the Opposition members’ behaviour. But “I can only go by rules, I cannot obey you.” The Governor’s direction to conduct a Motion of Confidence has to be followed, he said.

He repeatedly assured that he would ensure the safety of all the 234 members of the House, conduct an enquiry into their allegations and urged all members to vote freely.

However, the Opposition again reiterated their demand.

After the Chief Minister Moved the Motion of Confidence, the DMK members again rushed to the Speaker’s desk. Shouting `adjourn’, `adjourn’, `Save Democracy’.

Within a few minutes of reconvening, the Speaker ordered the eviction of the DMK members and adjourned the House till 3 pm.

By about 2.30 pm the Assembly Marshalls entered in a large group to evict the members. The DMK MLAs led by Stalin, Deputy Leader of Opposition Durai Murugan and other senior leaders sat on the floor and had to be bodily carried out as they scuffled with the staff.

The Speaker resumed the proceedings at 3 pm and conducted the voting. He said he would go by rule 99(3) of the Assembly proceedings and go for a headcount to decide the results. After the count, he formally declared the results with a majority in favour of the Motion of Confidence.

A timeline of events in the Assembly today:

(3.23 pm) EPS government gets 122 votes; 11 against

(3.22 pm) Palaniswamy govt wins trust vote

(3.15 pm) MLAs to say Yes or No to motion

(3.13 pm) Floor test begins without DMK, Congress

(3.05 pm) Assembly reconvenes

(2.58 pm) Stalin says 'I was manhandled'

(2.57 pm) Stalin, DMK MLAs come out of Assembly

(2.40 pm) Congress, DMK MLAs, Stalin evicted

(2.20 pm) DMK MLAs being evicted from House

(2 pm) Deputy Speaker Pollachi V. Jayaraman comes out of the Speaker's office.

(1.45 pm) Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan enters Assembly Speaker's office. She told Marshals she was called by the Speaker and was allowed inside.

(1.30 PM) Assembly adjourned till 3 pm

(1.24 pm) Resolution moved; Speaker orders voting

(1.17 pm) DMK MLAs expelled from House

(1.05 pm) House in session again

(12.45 pm) Assembly staff injured; taken away in ambulance

(12.40 pm) Ambulance arrives in Assembly

(12.28 pm) Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal leaves the House escorted by marshals

(12.14 pm) Assembly adjourned till 1 pm.

(12.05 pm) Speaker gheraoed by MLAs of OPS camp and Opposition seeking a secret ballot. Slogans being raised demanding secret ballot. The ruling party is opposing the desire for secrecy.

( 11.45 am) Since there is no official information from the Assembly hall as representatives can't communicate and audio has been cut off, we are unable to provide information now.

11.34 am: Speaker Dhanapal rejects Stalin's request of conducting floor test on another day.

It is a vote by division in the floor test happening in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

Proceedings in the floor test for the Edapaddi Palaniswamy government began in the midst of chaos on Saturday morning.

The OPS faction of the AIADMK and the Opposition had sought a secret ballot.

TN Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami was not in favour of secret ballot as it could lead to cross voting.

He proposed the floor Test in the State Assembly.

Audio of assembly proceedings have been cut off in the secretariat press room.

Earlier, the O. Panneerselvam camp appointed sitting MLA Semmalai as the party whip and sent a letter to the Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal to this effect.

AIADMK Presidium Chairman E Madhusudhanan and AIADMK Treasurer O Panneerselvam in the letter said they had appointed S Semmalai as the party whip, prior to the motion of confidence in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

As per AIADMK party rules and regulations, in the absence of the General Secretary, party functionaries appointed by the previous General Secretary shall perform these functions.

Tamil Nadu is facing its first floor test in 30 years. After non-stop frenzy since O. Panneerselvam’s Marina revolt, the scene has now shifted to the Assembly where Edappadi K. Palaniswami is seeking a trust vote. The lone IUML member has decided to oppose the motion.

Of the AIADMK’s official strength of 134, there are 11 dissidents including former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. On Friday, former Chennai Police Commissioner R. Natraj, the AIADMK’s Mylapore constituency MLA, decided to throw in his lot with Mr. Panneerselvam.

Nonetheless, the AIADMK whip S. Rajendiran issued a directive to all party MLAs to attend the Assembly and vote in favour of the motion.

The need for moving a confidence motion arose after a group of MLAs declared support to Mr. Panneerselvam, who now heads the rebel AIADMK.

Published on February 18, 2017
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