The issue dates back to 2017 when 11 AIADMK MLAs including O Panneerselvam had voted in the no confidence motion against Edappadi K Palaniswami government.

No whip was issued to 11 rebel AIADMK MLAs, can’t disqualify them: TN CM to SpeakerFile Image/PTI
news Politics Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 09:34

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami informed the Assembly Speaker that the Chief Government Whip had not issued any whip to the 11 MLAs including Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Minister Mafoi K Pandiarajan to support him in the No Confidence motion that took place in the Assembly in 2017. The Chief Minister thus urged the Speaker to dismiss the plea made by other MLAs to disqualify the 11 MLAs including O Panneerselvam.

According to reports, the Chief Minister’s letter came in response to pleas filed by six AIADMK MLAs who sought the disqualification of O Panneerselvam and 10 others for not complying with the orders of the Chief Government Whip. Palaniswami stated that a whip was issued to vote in his favour only to 122 MLAs who had given letters of support electing him as the leader of the AIADMK. The Chief Minister also stated that since the 11 MLAs did not violate any whip order, the need to disqualify them under the anti-defection law does not arise.

“Even though there was no direction issued by the Chief Government Whip to the respondents, no action was initiated by the AIADMK party contemporaneously to disqualify the respondents in the fond hope that respondents would express their solidarity with the party and thus, even at that stage, their action of voting against the confidence motion was condoned,” Palaniswami contended. He added that he had met the Governor only on the basis of the letters of support submitted by 122 MLAs based on which a whip was issued to each and every one of them to vote in his favour on February 18, 2017.

Stating that the 11 MLAs are still with the AIADMK and the party is now functioning with the recognition of the Election Commission for being the ‘true’ AIADMK, Edappadi K Palaniswami urged the Speaker to dismiss the petitions of the six MLAs.

In February 2020, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition by the DMK which had also sought for disqualification of the 11 AIADMK MLAs. It directed the Assembly Speaker Dhanapal to decide on the disqualification without setting any date for it.

The issue dates back to early 2017 when the AIADMK was split into two factions -- one led by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala (Edappadi K Palaniswami) and the other one led by O Panneerselvam. Edappadi K Palaniswami was nominated to be the Chief Minister by Sasikala, who was then asked to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly as the 11 MLAs representing the AIADMK had voted for a no confidence motion against the government.