Nine newly elected AIADMK legislators on Wednesday took oath before Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal, taking the strength of the ruling party to 122, four past the half mark.
However, three of them elected on AIADMK symbol have since turned against the Edappadi Government. However, they are still in the AIADMK list. The Speaker cannot also vote in a no-trust vote unless there is a tie. Therefore, the AIADMK still has a wafer thin majority in the Assembly.
Thirteen DMK legislators have already taken oath and the party’s present strength is 101. Its ally Congress’s strength has come down to seven as one of the MLAs, H Vasanth Kumar, has got elected to Lok Sabha from Kanyakumari. He sent his resignation from the Nanguneri Assembly seat to the Speaker on Wednesday.
The DMK is also supported by lone Indian Union Muslim League member. Thus the total of the DMK –led opposition is 109, nine short of the halfway mark.
Leader of the Opposition and DMK president M K Stalin, who attended the swearing-in of the newly elected 13 MLAs on Tuesday, told reporters that the fate of the no-trust motion he has given notice of against the Speaker will be known only when the Assembly meets.
A perplexing aspect of the recent Lok Sabha polls and the 22 Assembly by-elections is that the people, while voting overwhelmingly for the DMK-led front, have given the AIADMK nine seats, just about enough for the Edappadi Government to stay afloat.
Much more intriguing is that the people voted for Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son Ravindranath for the Theni Lok Sabha seat, but rejected AIADMK candidates in the two Assembly segments of Andipatti and Periakulam where by-elections were held. The DMK won both the seats.
Pannerselvam took his son along when he and Chief Minister Edappadi visited Varanasi to attend the nomination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He sought the blessings of Modi for his son.
Fifty EVM machines and VVPATs were moved from Coimbatore to Theni constituency on the eve of the elections. The DMK complained to the Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo, alleging foul play. He however said these machines were moved on the orders of the Election Commission and they would be put to use only if repolling became necessary in some booths.