The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday issued an interim stay on a notice sent by the Tamil Nadu Speaker to three MLAs of the ruling AIADMK, who were said to be loyal towards the TTV Dinakaran-led AMMK camp. Two of the MLAs who had received the notice from the Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal had approached the Supreme Court last week to stay the notice sent by the Speaker. The top court also issued a notice to the Speaker and has sought explanation and it is expected that the case will come up for hearing four weeks later.
While Kapil Sibal represented the MLAs who had received the notice from the Speaker, Mukul Rohatgi argued on behalf of the Assembly Speaker P.Dhanapal.
On April 26, the AIADMK party Chief whip S. Rajendran had submitted a recommendation to Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal regarding the disqualification of three AIADMK MLAs on the grounds of ‘anti-party’ activities. The MLAs are E.Rathinasabapathi, V T Kalaiselvan and Prabhu, who were elected from Aranthangi, Vridhachalam and Kallakurichi Assembly constituencies respectively.
Members of Tamil Nadu’s opposition party, the DMK met the Tamil Nadu Assembly Secretary on May 2nd to present a notice to move a no-confidence petition against the Assembly Speaker. This is in line with the party President M K Stalin’s earlier statement that the party would move a no-confidence motion against the speaker, if he were to act in a biased manner.
Opposition parties in the State have been alleging that the AIADMK government which is surviving on a slim majority is attempting to lower the strength of the house, fearing an impending defeat in the bye-elections. While the AIADMK government does face a major challenge due to anti-incumbency(after winning 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls riding on the popularity and charisma of J Jayalalithaa, the party also swept 37 of the 39 seats in the 2014 Lok sabha polls) in these polls, it is also true that the DMK and its allies must sweep almost all of the 22 seats in order to get the simple majority in the house.
Responding to the DMKs comments regarding the AIADMK fearing defeat, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said that DMK leader M K Stalin had gone ahead with the no-confidence motion petition against the Speaker, as the Opposition party was not confident of the bye-poll results.
The issue of MLAs disqualification had taken center-stage in Tamil Nadu politics after the Speaker disqualified 18 AIADMK legislators who had offered support to the TTV-Dinakaran(AMMK leader) in September 2017. Dinakaran had fought a long battle in court to get the MLAs reinstated, but it went in vain after the Madras High Court upheld the disqualification in a judgement delivered in November 2018.
While 18 of the vacant Assembly Seats went to the polls on 18th April along with the Parliamentary polls in Tamil Nadu, the remaining four assembly seats would go to the polls on 19th May. Leaders of the major parties are currently shuttling between these assembly constituencies in order to campaign for their respective candidates. The results of the bye-polls to 22 Assembly seats would be out on May 23rd, along with the results of the General Election.