Tamil Nadu in turmoil as the ruling party crumbles from within

In a dramatic twist in Tamil Nadu politics, nineteen legislators of Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK met the state’s Governor Vijayanagar Rao this morning and reportedly told him that they have lost confidence in Chief Minister E. Palaniswami. They termed yesterday’s merger between the two factions led by Mr. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam illegal and made clear that they are opposed to the decision to throw out party Chief V.K. Sasikala, who is in jail.

The pro-Sasikala MLAs said they have requested the Governor to ensure that Mr. Palaniswami is removed, alleging that he did not consult Mr. Dhinakaran before merging his faction with that of Mr. Panneerselvam or OPS, which had voted against his government in a trust vote six months ago.

Soon after their meeting, senior leader of the AIADMK and Member of Parliament V. Maitrayan too met Governor C.H. Vidyasagar Rao. He described it as a “courtesy call.”

After yesterday’s merger, the AIADMK has 134 legislators in the 234-member assembly. That is only 17 more than the 117 needed for a majority. With 19 MLAs rebelling, Chief Minister Palaniswami could be in trouble if he has to face a no-confidence motion.

The AIADMK had split weeks after the death of its powerful chief J. Jayalalithaa, who died as chief Minister in December last year. The two factions had been working on the merger for months and finally came together yesterday, with EPS and OPS shaking hands and making a joint announcement. The expulsion of Ms. Sasikala was a key demand of the OPS camp.


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