Madras HC upholds disqualification of 18 AIADMK lawmakers loyal to Dhinakaran
The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld the Speaker’s disqualification of 18 AIADMK lawmakers loyal to TTV Dhinakaran. According to the judgement, the 18 AIADMK lawmakers, who were ousted from the party will no longer be members of the assembly and by-elections will be held for their seats.
After the verdict, Dhinakaran insisted that the court order would not impact his ranks. “If by-elections are held, we will win,” Dhinakaran asserted. “We were expecting a positive outcome,” he admitted, not ruling out going to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.
However, the judgement of Madras High Court saved the present E Palaniswami government of possible embarrassment over lack of numbers in the House.
As of now, by-elections will be held for a total of 20 seats, including two that have been vacant since the death of members. With 20 vacant seats, the Tamil Nadu assembly’s strength has come down from 234 to 214.
The ruling party, with 116 members, is well above the half-way mark of 107. If the rebel lawmakers had been reinstated, the total would have gone up to 232 and the AIADMK would have been one lawmaker short of a simple majority (117).
This comes a year after the AIADMK, then under Sasikala and Dhinakaran, had moved all the party’s legislators to tourist resort outside Chennai to guard them from the then chief minister O Panneerselvam, who had rebelled against Sasikala’s dominance. After Sasikala was jailed, E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam buried their differences and removed her.
Later, the assembly Speaker had disqualified the lawmakers invoking the anti-defection law after they wrote to the governor seeking the removal of Chief Minister Palaniswami.
Interestingly, Sasikala, a long-time aide of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, took control of the party after her death in December 2016 and was about to take charge as chief minister when she was jailed for corruption. She was removed as AIADMK chief but continued to control the dissident group from jail, along with her nephew Dhinakaran, who won the RK Nagar seat of Jayalalithaa in by-polls a year ago.