Tamil Nadu Assembly Secretary Srinivasan on Tuesday told dissident AIADMK legislator Prabhu of Kallakuruchi that he need not respond to the disqualification notice issued against them by Speaker P Dhanapal in view of the interim stay granted by the Supreme Court on Monday.
Prabhu, who did not join the other two legislators V T Kalaiselvam of Vriddhachalam and A Rathasabapathi of Aranthangi who challenged the notice in the Supreme Court, came to the Secretariat to reply to the Speaker’s notice as it was expiring on Tuesday.
As the Speaker was not available, Prabhu met Secretary Srinivasan who told him to disregard the notice. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case in July after summer vacation. By when the whole political climax may have changed.
Prabhu is among the three rebels who are sought to be disqualified for supporting breakaway AIADMK leader and current chief of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam T T V Dinakaran. Prabhu advanced a disingenuous argument that he continues to be in the AIADMK headed by V K Sasikala who took over as general secretary after the passing of J Jayalalitha in December 2016.
She was unanimously elected general secretary by the then undivided AIADMK. The party split only O Pannerselvam, who succeeded Jayalalitha as Chief Minister, revolted after he was eased out by Sasikala in an attempted coup which failed because of her conviction and subsequent imprisonment in jail in the assets case in March 2017. When the Governor refused to swear in Sasikala because a verdict on the case was expected, she got Edappadi K Palanisami and 123 supporters installed as Chief Minister to keep the seat warm for her whenever she was able to strike back.
Pannerselvam and 10 of his supporters voted against Edappadi when he sought a trust vote in February 2017. Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the AIADMK factions merged in August 2017 to keep Sasikala at bay. The reunited party gained recognition from the EC.
It also led to 18 Dinakaran supporters petitioning the Governor to change the Chief Minister, resulting in their disqualification by the Speaker. This action has since been upheld in a majority decision of a three judges of the Madras High Court.
Having lost the battle to topple the government or capture the AIADMK, Dinakaran has floated the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam which he represents in the Assembly as an independent as his is an unregistered party.
He has since proclaimed himself general secretary of the AMMK whose candidates have contested on a common symbol in the 18 By-elections and are due to contest in four more due on May 19.
Dinakaran has left the larger battle for the AIADMK to Sasikala who has challenged her removal by the general council after the two groups reunited.
A grey area in the AIADMK constitutionis the provision that the general secretary should be elected by primary members, running to nearly one crore now. It was not enforced as not feasible when founder M G Ramachandran was general secretary or when J Jayalalitha succeeded him. And the office is for life.
The election of Sasikala as general secretary by the general council of the party is, therefore as much open to question as her removal.
When Edappadi and Pannerselvam merged the factions, they only proclaimed themselves as joint coordinator and coordinator of the party respectively. The party proclaimed that Jayalalitha would forever be the general secretary.
Prabhu, by claiming that he is still in the AIADMK faction headed by Sasikala has advanced a legal argument which is devious.
The other two rebels have played safe by contending in the Supreme Court that Speaker is biased as he has not taken any action against Pannerselvam who defied the AIADMK whip and voted against the Government whereas they voted for.