Over a month after the 22-seat bye-elections in the state, the Tamil Nadu Assembly is all set to convene on Friday. The Assembly session, which will witness the presence of 232 members— the highest in nearly two years— would last for a little over a month till July 30. The motion of no confidence, moved by the DMK against Speaker P Dhanapal, will be taken up on July 1.
Bye-elections to 18 vacant MLA seats were held along with the Lok Sabha polls on April 18 while polls to four others were held on May 19. The results for both, announced on May 23, saw the AIADMK survive the challenge to its power. The AIADMK won 9 seats, taking its tally in Assembly up to 123 MLAs, well past the halfway mark of 118. Meanwhile, the DMK won 13 seats, taking its individual tally up to 101. Along with its allies— the Congress and IUML— the DMK has 108 seats in the House. AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran is the sole independent MLA in the House.
On April 26, over a week after Tamil Nadu went to polls, Tamil Nadu Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam and AIADMK Whip S Rajendran had met with Speaker P Dhanapal, seeking to disqualify three AIADMK lawmakers— Aranthangi MLA Rathinasabapathy, Virudhachalam MLA Kalaiselvan and Kallakurichi MLA Prabhu. The Whip had said that he had gathered documentary evidence of the 'anti-party' activities that the MLAs had indulged in. The MLAs have been vocal in their support of RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran. Following the complaint, the Speaker sought an explanation from the three ruling party MLAs over their alleged 'anti-party' activities.
This prompted the DMK to petition the Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, seeking to bring a motion of no-confidence against Speaker P Dhanapal. It was thought that if the three MLAs were disqualified, it would help the ruling AIADMK in the event of a trust vote in the Assembly, as it would have reduced the strength of the House. However, with 22-seat bye-polls now complete and the results comfortably favouring the AIADMK, it remains to be seen if the motion holds water.
Incidentally in May, the Supreme Court ordered an interim stay on the disqualification notice issued to the three AIADMK MLAs by the Speaker.
The Assembly has not returned to its full strength of 234 elected members since 2017. The state would face two more bye-polls in coming months: to the Vikravandi Assembly constituency whose DMK MLA K Radhamani passed away earlier this month as well as the Nanguneri Assembly constituency which was recently vacated by newly-elected Congress MP H Vasanthakumar. Elections to the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency, which were countermanded in May this year, are also due.