Tamil Nadu is gearing up to witness the crescendo of its political turmoil in the state Assembly, in the form of a floor test on Saturday. People across the state have been actively contributing to this decision making process, a fact emphasised by the number of phone calls legislators have been receiving following the cracks within the AIADMK.
One such legislator, who had initially refused to take a stand, has now made his decision public. Mylapore MLA R Natraj told TNM on Friday, that he will be voting against Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami in the vote of confidence.
Sasikala’s chosen man was granted 15 days by the Governor to prove his majority on the floor of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has a strength of 234 MLAs. Edappadi currently claims to have the support of over 120 MLAs. 10 MLAs have made their loyalties to O Panneerselvam clear.
If the DMK joins the voting process, the Chief Minister will require the backing of 117 MLAs to prove his majority. While the arithmetic seems to be in favour of the Sasikala faction, the OPS camp has claimed over and over again that the sentiment is in their favour. With R Natraj now extending his support, the OPS camp has 11 MLAs on its side.
The former Tamil Nadu Director General of Police, R Natraj’s decision to support O Panneerselvam would prove to be a shot in the arm for the OPS camp. The MLA did not immediately choose sides in this power struggle. He had instead claimed that he would talk to the voters in his constituency in order to make an informed decision.
“I have been all along saying I want unity in the party. I don’t like divisions or factions in the party. But I respect people’s feelings and I will vote against Edappadi Palaniswami,” Natraj told TNM.
If the legislator defies the party whip in this matter, which is likely to be issued, he may face expulsion. The MLA however doesn’t seem too perturbed about the party’s reaction to his decision. “I don’t know about that. It is a great weight off my mind. I have been deliberating this for some time now,” he said.
While 4 time MLA Edappadi Palaniswami has made his loyalties to Sasikala clear and portrayed an image of confidence regarding the floor test, the OPS camp claims it will continue to fight till ‘Panneerselvam becomes head of the state’.
When asked if they were in talks with MLAs in the Sasikala faction, recently expelled AIADMK veteran C Ponnaiyan told TNM, “We are not calling them, they are all reaching out to us.”
(With inputs from Anna Isaac)
Source: The News Minute