Despite a defeat in the Trust Vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday, former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam came out of the Secretariat smiling. The OPS camp, consisting of 11 MLAs, was not able to garner more support for their campaign against the Sasikala faction.
The day ended with Edappadi Palaniswami getting the backing of 122 MLAs to retain the Chief Minister's post while the numbers against him did not go beyond 11. But Panneerselvam claimed that the fight was not over just yet.
Surrounded by the MLAs supporting him, O Panneerselvam told the waiting media outside the Assembly that the Speaker refused to cater to their two demands. "We asked that the voting process be pushed by 5 days, so that the MLAs can visit their constituencies and understand the pulse of the people. This was not allowed. We asked the Speaker to at least hold a secret ballot and that was denied too," said the former CM.
"But we are not deterred by this. Justice will prevail and Amma's rule will return," he added.
The Assembly, to a large extent, reflected the political turmoil that the state itself has been facing, this last month. The DMK which had pledged to vote against Edapaddi Palanisami, was evicted from the house by the Speaker. Following this, the Congress which was also set to vote against the Chief Minister, staged a walkout.
MLA Mofai K Pandiarajan who flanked Panneerselvam's right side was quick to add, "The fight for justice will be taken throughout Tamil Nadu." He further claimed that the legalities of the Speaker's actions will be taken up with the Governor.
With the DMK and the Congress not present in the Assembly, the number came down to 142 MLAs. This meant that Edappadi Palaniswami required the support of only 77 MLAs to win the trust vote. The former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam claimed that through their actions in assembly, these MLAs had betrayed the trust of the people who voted them to power.
It was however, the Mettur MLA Semmalai, who summed up the mood of the OPS camp to the media. With a wry smile, he said, "The battle may have been lost but the war is not over."