On a day of intense political drama to cap weeks of turmoil, a new battle raged: Speaker R Dhanapal versus DMK Working President MK Stalin.
From the start, the Assembly Session, where Edappadi Palaniswami called for a Trust Vote, was high on tension. The DMK, the Congress, the IUML and the OPS camp all demanded that the Trust Vote be taken through secret ballot.
Stalin urged the Speaker to accept this demand of the opposition, calling it the only real democratic option. However, Dhanapal refused to entertain this demand.
Stalin then asked that the vote be postponed for at least two days, to allow the MLAs to consult with their constituents before deciding how to vote. Again, Dhanapal did not accept the plea.
From this point, the simmering tension inside the Assembly was ratcheted up to the level of high drama. Even as Dhanapal insisted on conducting the division of votes, the Opposition MLAs launched into sloganeering, eventually gherao-ing the Speaker.
With some MLAs grabbing Dhanapal, and chairs and mics being damaged, the Session was adjourned twice, until 3pm. Meanwhile, a slew of allegations arose. Dhanapal showed off a torn shirt and alleged that he had been manhandled. The DMK’s MLAs were then ordered to be evicted from the House.
As they resisted, another round of scuffles ensued. Now it was Stalin’s turn to emerge from the House with his shirt torn and looking set upon. Stalin then accused the Speaker of “tearing the shirt himself” and shedding “crocodile tears”.
He said that he had apologised to the Speaker and offered to take responsibility for the DMK’s behaviour, but asked that the Trust Vote be conducted normally. Instead, he alleged, the Speaker had set the marshals and the police on them, assaulting and forcibly evicting them.
Implied in all this was the suggestion that the DMK had been pushed to its limit and finally expelled in order to aid the Palaniswami government.
With Stalin then meeting the Governor and launching a protest at Marina Beach, it was time for Dhanapal to hit back. And this he did from the Speaker’s Chair, invoking Jayalalithaa as the leader who had raised him up to the high seat though he was from the Adi Dravidar community.
Accusing Stalin and the DMK of hitting out at him for being from the Arundhatiyar caste, Dhanapal said, “Their act was an act of oppressing my community. While we have been free for 69 years, they don’t want this community to come up. They purposely behaved in such a way today.”
Pointing out that the Palaniswami government had secured the support of 122 MLAs, he said that the even the full Opposition did not have the numbers to defeat the Confidence Motion. “Even if DMK and Congress had voted against the motion, 122 people have voted for the motion. This motion would still have won. Their politics has no effect on me. I followed the rules of the Assembly today. As per the rules, the Chief Minister’s motion has won,” he said.
He also added that he would not have spoken out at all, if not for the fact that Stalin had accused him of shedding crocodile tears, and therefore required him to defend himself.
Source: The News Minute