A meeting of the AIADMK Legislature Party called by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy today saw only 111 MLAs attending, six short of the half way mark in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.The meeting, ostensibly to discuss arrangements for the upcoming general council and executive meeting scheduled for Sept 12, was boycotted by the 19 pro-Dinakaran MLAs who have already given letters to the Governor, withdrawing support to the Government.
This was the second such meeting in less than a fortnight. At the last meeting on Aug 28, 35 MLAs stayed away. As it was not a specific legislature party meeting, their attendance was not insisted upon. This time, an attendance register was kept at the meeting venue.
Talking to reporters later, Finance Minister D Jayakumar confirmed that only 111 MLAs attended the meeting. He said they had reaffirmed their faith in the leadership of EdappadiPalanisami.
It showed that the government had lost majority and the Assembly should be called to test its strength, DMKworking president, M K Stalin said.
For today’s meeting, EPS invited even the rebel MLAs, but they refused to attend. Explaining their position, dissident legislator ThangaTamizhselvan said as the meeting was called to reaffirm support to the Chief Minister, they decided to stay away and continue their struggle for a change of regime.
Today’s meeting shows that the government has the support of only 111 out of the ruling party legislators. Besides, three members of alliance parties have won on its symbol, taking the strength to 114. Even so, it is three short of the majority in the 233 member Tamil Nadu Assembly.
19 MLAs have been staying in a hotel in Puducherry ever since their meeting with the Governor.
Three pro-Dinakaran MLAs met the Assembly Secretary Boopathi and gave the replies of all the rebels to the second notice issued by the Speaker, asking them to showcause why they should not be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
Some of the 21 DMK legislators who have been issued notice for alleged breach of privilege for bringing satchets of banned gutka packets to the House last June, also met the Assembly Secretary. They denied they had breached the privilege of the House and sought more time to consult legal opinion and come back with a detailed response.
Governor ChVidyasagarRao has, however, taken the stand that there is no need for a floor test as the 19 dissidents are still in the AIADMK, a stand questioned by the opposition.