For Palaniswami It Was A Cake-Walk From A Tight-Rope Walk

Chennai/Hyderabad: From a tight-rope walk to a cake walk. This was the anti-climax in the high voltage political drama witnessed in Tamil Nadu enabling the ruling AIADMK to retain the reins of power in the State after the bizarre ploy of the main Opposition DMK backfired. Though the incumbent Chief Minister E Palaniswami (EPS) won the vote of confidence on the floor of the State Assembly with a razor thin margin, he for all practical purposes had a smooth sailing in the absence of the entire Opposition.

It is pertinent to recall here that after the death of Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha, popularly known to the masses as “Amma”, her so-called alter ego “Chinnamma” Sasikala Natrajan had an eye on the Chief Minister’s throne. But all her hopes and dreams were shattered by the verdict of the Supreme Court in convicting her in the DA case and sent her to jail. However, not to be deterred by the turn of events, Chinnamma decided to have a grip on the State administration by nominating her proxy EPS as the Chief Minister.

The strength of AIADMK in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly was 134, DMK 89, Congress 8 and IMUL one. With the rebellion in AIADMK, the strength of EPS-led group was 122 while the group led by O Paneerselvam (OPS) was 11. Though the number of votes need for winning the trust vote for EPS was 117, it was a wafer thin margin what with only five members more than the required number for winning the trust vote. As a matter of fact, OPS was confident and claiming that there would be change of heart among some members of the EPS group, who would go against the trust vote.

On the day of the confidence motion to be taken up in the House, that is today, the DMK with 88 members (after Karunanidhi’s absence due to ill-health), Congress with 8 members and the lone IMUL have announced that they would vote against EPS. Thus defection of another six members to OPS camp from AIADMK would have resulted in the downfall of EPS. As a matter of fact, this was being anticipated and speculated even as the Assembly was getting ready to commence its crucial special session with news that around three ministers and six MLAs were planning to cross vote against EPS.

However, the overzealous ploy of the Stalin-led DMK to stall the Assembly proceedings by insisting for a secret ballot not only boomeranged but also helped clear the decks for EPS to have a smooth sailing. The disruptive and destructive actions of the DMK in throwing the House into a pandemonium forced Speaker P. Dhanapal to en masse expel and evict the DMK members from the House. The Congress and IMUL then staged a walk-out leaving the entire House for only the ruling AIADMK, including the rebel faction of 11 members led by OPS. Thus it was an easy going for EPS to virtually scrape through from a tough situation. (NSS)

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