Friday, 17 February 2017

Every number matters: A preview on confidence motion for Edappadi Palanisamy's cabinet

After all of those nail biting moments of the State politics, numbers have become the significant parameter at the end of a fortnight long faction fight that has been eventuating in the AIADMK. It is going to be a confidence motion at the State assembly on Saturday (February 18, 2017) that will decide the fate of the Chief Ministerial term for the next couple of years from now on the basis of trust votes casted by the law makers of Tamil Nadu State assembly.


Apart from their own supporters, I feel that it is the take of the minor opposition parties in the assembly that is to be taken into a serious account.

Fort St. George - SourceMinnambalam

With Edappadi K Palanisamy sworn in as the Chief Minister of the State on Thursday, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao had asked the Palanisamy led Council of Ministers (CoM) to prove its majority in the assembly within 15 days. Following this, a floor test session is going to be conducted on Saturday in the house. During the session, the CoM should get trust votes more 50 per cent of the overall MLA count in order to continue with its rule for the rest of the ruling period.


Excepting the OPS-faction that has less than 10 MLAs as of now and the prime opposition party DMK, that is opposing the CoM during the session, I could sense that the spotlight has now turned towards the other minor parties in the house. As of now, the Sasikala faction with Edappadi as Chief Minister, is said to have 124 numbers to support them which is almost in the border mark level.


So, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) that is with eight MLAs in their side has turned out to be a significant participant of the trust vote session. Despite being the second important party of the DMK alliance, the Congress party still has not officially announced its stand in the trust vote session yet.


Apart from this, the BJP that does not hold any seat in the State assembly still has been opposing the swearing in of Palanisamy. Earlier, Union Minister and a senior leader of the State BJP Pon Radhakrishnan told the media persons, "I don't think that the cabinet of Edappadi Palanisamy would sustain for even one day in the chair. He also said that the cabinet has come to power against the wish of the people".


Taking this into concern, the Congress that has BJP as its strong opponent in the rest of the country might take a supporting stand for Palanisamy led cabinet of the State assembly. It is very sure that the Congress would not support the CoM. But, at the same time, there are some mere chances for them to support too as the OPS faction is said to be backed by the BJP. 


"Anyways, at the end of the day, it is going to be the decision of the respective MLAs who are going to cast their votes', says Safi Irfanullah, a political analyst and legal expert from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. Further he clarified that the MLAs of the same party taking different stand during the confidence motion too might put them in trouble.


"The chief whip of every party in the house would be directing the other MLAs of his party to cast their vote for or against the CoM. At this time, if any of the members fail to follow the directions of the whip and take his own stand, then through his discretion, the speaker of the house can disqualify members on the ground that they defied the instructions of their party whip and voted against. (Remember, in 1988 the then speaker Pandiyan disqualified the MLAs who supported Jaya faction in the Assembly). He has the right to terminate him from the house thus by disqualifying him/her from his legislative assembly membership", Safi added.


From the words of Safi, I could see that the take of the Congress would be a unanimous call but, still is not revealed. The Palanisamy cabinet is only with 124 MLAs to support them, so they could take some steps to rope in more supporters for them in order to ensure their strength.


While, Congress denies this saying that they will take an opposing stand against the cabinet. "We are utterly against them and we will surely cast our trust votes against the CoM only", said a close source from the TNCC on conditions of anonymity. The source further added that, the Congress is with the DMK in Tamilnadu and so the decisions in this kinds of situations would be on same page for both the parties. "As we stood against both the factions of AIADMK in 1987, the same will continue even now", he added.


On the other hand, another senior Congress person and an MLA Vijayadharani said in a talk show on Friday evening that the Congress will take a decision that will benefit to the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu. She even hinted that the current situation is completely different from Jayalalithaa era during which Congress firmly opposed the AIADMK.


Similarly, the Indian Union Muslim League, that has one MLA, Muhammad Abubacker in the assembly too has become one of the deciding factors of the fate of the assembly for next four years. However, sources from the party said that they will decide on this matter only after a meeting that is going to be held on Friday evening and still nothing has come out officially from them. Meanwhile, the coalition party MLA Thamimun Ansari has already announced his support to the CoM earlier this morning.


Despite all these number games, sources from the Koovathur Golden Bay Resorts, where all 124 supporting MLAs of Sasikala faction are accommodated told that, as many as 18 MLAs from the faction lined up against Palanisamy and that is why they were not brought to the swearing in ceremony of the cabinet. However, the party sources denied the claim and have ensured that they are strongly united and will continue their rule in the State.


The situation is almost like a cat on a wall as the voting process predictions are still mysterious even hours before the session. If Palanisamy cabinet triumphs, then it is going to be a successful four year rule for the Sasikala faction. And OPS faction MLAs could be terminated from office as they don't stand alongside of the party's decision.


On the other scenario, if the confidence motion ends up in a negative note, then the ball would be in Governor's court and he could invite anyone else from the house to form the government be it O Panneerselvam or MK Stalin, why not, even Thamimun Ansari as anything is possible in Indian politics.


- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, February 17, 2017.

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