Despite the combined efforts of the O Panneerselvam camp and the DMK, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami emerged victorious in the Trust Vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. With this vote in favour of Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu’s recent political uncertainty has likely ended for the next three years.
The state Assembly saw a Trust Vote on Saturday after nearly thirty years. The vote was taken in the form of a division, with the Speaker, P Dhanapal taking a headcount to determine the support. The numbers were overwhelmingly in favour of Palaniswami, with 122 MLAs voting in his favour, and 11 voting against.
The Assembly Session began in tempestuous conditions, with repeated demands from the OPS camp, the DMK, Congress and IUML for voting by secret ballot being rejected by the Speaker. Even as the Speaker attempted to begin the counting of votes by division, the Opposition MLAs created a ruckus in the House, damaging chairs and mics and even manhandling the Speaker as he walked out. The Session resumed at 1pm after a short adjournment.
The Speaker, however, ordered that 88 DMK MLAs be evicted from the House, bringing down the strength of the Assembly to 142 members. With the DMK MLAs refusing to leave, however, the House was further adjourned till 3pm. The Congress MLAs also walked out of the Assembly. Voting on the confidence motion finally took place at around 3.20pm.
With nearly the entire Opposition out of the House, Palaniswami easily won the vote.
The vote proved to be a major blow to O Panneerselvam, who has been nursing Chief Ministerial ambitions. On the eve of the trust vote, the former Chief Minister invoked J Jayalalithaa and appealed to the AIADMK MLAs not to vote for CM Palaniswami.
"I urge MLAs of AIADMK to think wisely before casting your vote tomorrow. Don't buckle under pressure," said O Panneerselvam. He further questioned TTV Dinakaran's role in the party. "Amma worked to ensure dynastic politics doesn't survive. She worked towards this goal till the end," he added.
The DMK too had made it clear on Friday that they will be voting against the Chief Minister. Working President, MK Stalin told the media that, "The DMK will vote against a Government that people of Tamil Nadu do not want. If it comes to a trust vote, we will not support Edappadi Palaniswami." Hours ahead of the vote, the Congress too confirmed that it would be voting against Palaniswami.
However, with Palaniswami managing to hold together almost the entire flock of AIADMK MLAs who had been lodged in the Golden Bay Resort, and the DMK's eviction from the Assembly, the numbers against Palanaswami were woefully insufficient.
Political uncertainty gripped Tamil Nadu since February 7, when former CM OPS launched an abrupt revolt against AIADMK interim General Secretary VK Sasikala just days after she was elected as the Legislature Party leader and OPS had resigned his CM post. With the Governor delaying the swearing-in of Sasikala as Chief Minister, and the impending verdict in the Disproportionate Assets case, the question of who would be the next CM was up in the air for days.
However, while OPS received massive popular support, he could not draw away more than a handful of MPs and MLAs to his faction. Although Sasikala’s conviction in the DA case seemed a big boost to the OPS faction, her lieutenant Edappadi Palaniswami successfully held the party together to remain Chief Minister.