O Panneerselvam, nine MLAs face threat of disqualification

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Assembly secretary A.M.P. Jamaluddin has summoned the convening of the Assembly on Saturday (February 18).

Chennai: The fate of MLAs posts held by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and former school education minister K. Pandiarajan hangs in balance as voting against the party whip on February 18 will disqualify them as per anti-defection law. The law requires one-third of the total legislators to recognise a split in the party in case of violating the direction of whip and so far only 10 MLAs had openly expressed support to Panneerselvam.

As the AIADMK has a strength of 135, the required strength for a split would be 45. Although, Panneerselvam and Pandiarajan have been expelled from the party, it has not been intimated to the Assembly. So, all the 10 MLAs will be considered as AIADMK members and they should obey the party whip to avoid disqualification. Assembly secretary A.M.P. Jamaluddin has summoned the convening of the Assembly on Saturday (February 18). When Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisami moves a confidence motion for his government, a whip will be issued on the floor of the Assembly, it is said.

Those present in the House should have to follow the whip or risk losing their MLA post. Even an abstention or not attending the Assembly will also lead to disqualification of the 10 MLAs. Under similar conditions in 1988, the then Speaker P.H. Pandian disqualified 33 MLAs belonging to the faction of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. At the moment, Pandian himself is in the camp of Panneerselvam.Assembly sources said any party whip would send a communication letter to all the MLAs to attend the House and vote in the confidence motion.

They also said abstention and absence would also attract the same provisions of law. When an MLA did not attend the Assembly, he should have to give valid reasons that should be accepted by the Speaker. When asked about their strategy, a former minister from the Panneerselvam camp said “Only when we violate the whip’s order and vote for an opposition party, such problems will arise. Anyhow, we will decide on the floor at the time of voting”. However, on verification with the Assembly secretariat, it was found that this view is not correct.

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