The opposition DMK, which has given notice for a no-confidence motion against Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal has thereby effectively pre-empted him from disqualifying move three AIADMK legislators and supporters of T T V Dinakaran to save the minority Edappadi Government.
The Government has only a working majority in a house with 22 vacancies. By-elections to fill 18 of these vacancies have already held along with the Lok Sabha polls. Four more are to be held on May 19.
Once the vacancies get filled after the by-elections, the AIADMK will require 117 in a house of 234, excluding the Speaker. Now the AIADMK has only 114, including three independents who have won on AIADMK symbol and who have since turned Dinakaran supporters. The AIADMK’s effective strength is therefore, only 111. It needs seven more to stay on power.
The DMK as well as the AMMK are fiercely challenging the AIADMK in all the 22 by-elections. Given the anti-incumbency wave, the government will collapse if the AIADMK is badly defeated in the by polls. Hence the pre-emptive step to disqualify three legislators who have openly campaigned for the AMMK in the elections.
The DMK’s legal wing secretary R S Bharathi handed over the no-confidence motion against the Speaker to the Assembly Secretary hours after Dhanapal sent notices to the three rebel legislators giving them just one week to reply. As per the 2018 verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court, subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, the Speaker cannot disqualify MLAs when a no-confidence motion is pending against him.
It is a historic case known as the Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felic Vs Deputy Speaker and others. Besides this solid ruling, convention is also in favour of the DMK. A no-trust motion will take precedence over all other business. Once the motion is given, the Speaker cannot sit in the Assembly and his Deputy Pollachi Jayaraman will preside.
The DMK-led opposition has only 96 members, 22 short of the majority can vote out this government even if it wins all the 22 seats, a tall order. Therefore, if the Speaker is ousted, the Government will collapse.
Now Dinakaran is the only member for his AMMK. If they are able to win a considerable number of seats, they can safely back the DMK-inspired no-trust move against Speaker as they are victims of his biased action when he disqualified 18 of his men without taking action against 11 supporters of O Pannerselvam who was then in the rebel camp and who defied the whip and voted against the Edappadi Government in the trust vote in February 2017.
If the motion against the Speaker is carried, then the Government will be forced to resign on moral grounds. The Edappadi Government has so far been propped up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The DMK-Congress camp reckons that if there is a regime change in New Delhi, it will hasten a change in Tamil Nadu also.