Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and Deputy O Pannerselvam told a high-level meeting of AIADMK functionaries here on Saturday that the upcoming by-elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 20 constituencies were critical for the survival of the Government and “we should win at least eight of them to get majority”.
Eighteen of these seats had remained unfilled for over a year owing a High Court order to keep these polls in abeyance till the fate of the 18 disqualified AIADMK rebel legislators are decided. Now that the case has come to a finality with the court vacating the stay after upholding Speaker S Dhanapal’s decision to disqualify them following their petition to the Governor in August last year to change the Chief Minister.
Following this, the long delayed byelections have to be held in the next few months. In the meantime, Tiruvavur and Tiruparankundam seats have also fallen vacant following the death of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK sitting member A K Bose. These elections have to be held before December-January.
The Election Commission will have to hold 20 by-elections together earliest by December-January and in any case before the Lok Sabha elections due in May 2019.
The Edappadi Government has survived so long with contrived majority through disqualification of the rebel legislators. It has only 109 members in the House with a total strength of 234, eight short of the half way mark.
The AIADMK was hoping that the disqulified would go in appeal to the Supreme Court against the high court order and that would give the government a breather. But that is not to be with rebel leader and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam T T V Dinakaran who deciding not to appeal and instead face the people through the by-elections which will be projected by the opposition as a referendum on the Edappadi Government.
It is the common interest of both the DMK leader M K Stalin who has 88 MLAss, and TTV Dinakaran to send this government packing. They had a secret understanding in R K Nagar by-election last year where Dinakaran trounced the rival AIADMK O Pannerselvam faction as the DMK put up a token contest to the point of its candidate even losing deposit.
With 20 seats up for grab, Stalin will expect the AMMK of Dinakaran to play second fiddle to the DMK this time around. These scenarios were discussed at the AIADMK high-level meeting. Both AIADMK convenor O Pannerselvam and joint convenor EdappadiK Palanisamy told the functionaries to gear up for the polls and ensure that the party wins at least eight to ten seats to stay afloat.