As the threat of a trust vote looms large for the ruling AIADMK faction, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami called for an urgent meeting with his ministers in Chennai on Thursday. Sources say the meeting has been called to discuss a date to convene the AIADMK General Council, in order to expedite the expulsion of interim General Secretary VK Sasikala from the party.
What is the strategy of the ruling camp?
Sources say the merged EPS-OPS faction hope that by expelling Sasikala from the AIADMK, many of the MLAs who are presently supporting Dhinakaran will shift loyalties to the ruling camp. With the Opposition DMK and Congress pressing Governor Vidyasagar Rao for a floor test, EPSâs strategy appears to bring more MLAs to his side before the vote of confidence in the Assembly.
As reported by TNM earlier, the united factions may not be able to survive a floor test, given that TTV has the support of 23 MLAs including three independents. The latest MLA to pledge loyalty to Dhinakaran is Rathnasabapathy, who represents Aranthangi.
The EPS camp believes that many more MLAs, at least 30, will move to TTVâs faction and want the General Council held as soon as possible.
Dhinakaranâs game plan
But the Mannargudi family is ready with a counteroffensive plan. With 18 MLAs presently enjoying some âR&Râ at a resort in Puducherry, a source in the Mannargudi family told TNM that their game plan is not to pull down the government for now. âWe donât want the government to take a floor test in the Assembly,â said the source.
However, with EPS moving to expel Sasikala, the source said that all efforts including legal options would be taken to ensure that the General Council meeting is not a closed-door affair. âEPS and OPS want to hold a closed door General Council meeting. But how can a General Council meeting be called without the General Secretary? They are using all tactics including using the police to keep members close to Sasikala out. We will not allow it. We will even move court if we have to,â said the source in the family.
The TTV camp will try to stop the General Council from being held, by quoting AIADMK bye-laws that say only General Secretary can call for the meeting. If that does not work, they may approach court. The source said, "Let them try to have a closed door meeting. There will be clashes."
So, if Dhinakaran isnât pushing for a floor test, what then is the strategy? Besides ensuring that Sasikala and Dhinakaran remain in the party, the Mannargudi family hopes to push for EPS to resign from the post of CM. Sasikalaâs brother Dhivakaran had told reporters on Wednesday that Speaker P Dhanapal was their choice for CM.