Will AIADMK's disqualification mantra to stay in power work?
The Edappadi Palaniswami government in Tamil Nadu is skating on thin ice, using the disqualification strategy to manufacture a majority for a minority government. Having disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs who owed allegiance to rebel leader TTV Dinakaran, a fresh round of disqualification has been set in motion to try and get rid of three more party MLAs who are Dinakaran supporters, even as the AIADMK government is bracing itself for a tug of war with the DMK in the state Assembly after the results of the April 18 and May 19 by-elections are announced on May 23.
Although the notices for the disqualification move have been issued to the three MLAs by the Speaker, it is clear that the AIADMK government is behind the move as it originated from a report of the Government Whip who belongs to the ruling AIADMK.
The DMK hit out at the disqualification move as a nervous and desperate act of the ruling party as it fears decimation in the by-elections to 22 Assembly constituencies. The government maintained a brave face stating that the concerned MLAs invited action by associating themselves with the Dinakaran group campaign in the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly by-elections.
The disqualification move comes at a time when the DMK is gearing up for what it considers the final showdown with the ruling AIADMK. The AIADMK fears that in the crucial vote of confidence as and when it takes place in the Assembly, these three MLAs could vote against the government. The present move is seen as a pre-emptive strike to defeat the opposition bid to oust the Edappadi government.
The DMK already has 88 MLAs, and has the support of eight Congress and one IUML member, taking the total to 97. Dinakaran was elected from the RK Nagar constituency in a prestigious bypoll, and would certainly vote against the AIADMK government. The strength of the House is 234, including the Speaker, but 22 seats are vacant for which the by-elections are being held after a long gap (except Sulur).
The AIADMK strength is 113, excluding the Speaker and including the three MLAs served with the disqualification notice, and needs to reach at least the 117 mark to survive. With every vote being crucial, the AIADMK banks on the fresh disqualification move to see it through. In the new House, if the three MLAs are ousted, the AIADMK strength would be down to 110 and would need 116 to secure a majority in a House of 231.
The AIADMK can hang on to power for the time being if it wins at least six of the 22 by-elections. A nail-biting contest is ahead. Meanwhile, the DMK has moved the Supreme Court, as also two of the affected MLAs, against the disqualification motion to queer the pitch. Interesting twists and turns lie ahead in the next few weeks.