The privileges committee of the Tamil Nadu Assembly is meeting on August 28 to consider suspension of 20 members for breach of privilege in a move to save the Edappadi Government which has been reduced to minority following withdrawal of support by 19 pro-Dinakaran members.
The idea is if the DMK members are suspended for breach of privilege ahead of the trust vote, whenever it is taken, the Government can survive on the basis of number of members present and voting.
Their suspension will bring down the effective strength of the Assembly to 213and the EPS Government can sail through given its present strength of 114, even if there are further desertions to the Dinakaran camp in the coming days.
It is a convoluted plan and then the EPS Government reckons that desperate situations call desperate remedies.
The complaint against these MLAs is they committed breach of privilege of the House by bringing banned gutka packets during the budget session. The DMK members brought them to the House to show how easily these banned products are available.
The incident happened after a gutka manufacturer told income-tax officials during a raid in his unit in Chennai in July 2016 that top politicians , including Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and police officials, including the then Chennai Police Commissioner T K Rajendran ( since promoted DGP), and Chennai corporation officials were on his payrolls.
The IT officials seized a ledger kept by him showing bribes amounting to Rs 40 crore were paid over a time to several government and police officials. They wrote to the Tamil Nadu Government on Aug 11, 2016 but no action has been taken.
of the Opposition and DMK working President M K Stalin repeatedly raised the issue in the House on June-July and the Chief Minister stalled a discussion on the ground that a probe had already been ordered. Only July 19, Stalin and 19 other DMK members brought gutka packets to the House and tried to raise the issue again, leading to a ruckus.
The privileges committee has chosen to take up this issue now in a desperate move to save this government. The committee on the video and photographic evidence will have to send notice to the concerned members, asking for an explanation.
If the explanations are not accepted the committee can recommend suitable punishment, like suspension. But then, the decision will have to be by majority.
In the 17-member committee, 10 including the Chief Minister are from the AIADMK. The DMK has six members and Congress has one.
Three of the 10 AIADMK members belong to the Dinakaran. If they do not attend the meeting or if they attend and stay neutral, there will a tie and the proposed action against the DMK members will fall through.