The fate of the Tamil Nadu government rests on the verdict of this case filed by the MLAs against their disqualification.
The Madras high court is scheduled to announce the ruling of the case filed by 18 MLAs disqualified from the Tamil Nadu government today at 1pm, five months after its judgment was reserved. The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar will give the judgment.
The fate of the state government rests on the verdict of this case filed by the MLAs against their disqualification. There are many possibilities for the government after the verdict.
The first one is that the MLAs lose the case and the government functions as it is. Eighteen bypolls would be conducted in the state, which would be a vulnerability for the Palaniswamy government.
The second is that the MLAs win the case and vote against the government in the assembly, which will lead to dissolution of the government.
In the Tamil Nadu government with its 234 seats, a party would need 117 votes (excluding the speaker), for a simple majority. Without the rebels’ vote, the party would fall short by four seats, with only 113 seats in hand.
A third scenario may be that even after winning the case, some MLAs might vote in favour of the present government. The ruling leaders have reached out to some of the rebels already and some in the Congress as well, to save their government.
In the fourth scenario, the MLAs win the case but nine of them do not vote in the assembly; then the government remains.
A split verdict from the high court would buy the Palaniswamy government some more time to figure a way out.
Many of the rebels are apparently looking for a bargain with CM EK Palaniswami; even the central government is not too inclined towards dissolving the government, as per a Times of India report.
After their disqualification, there is a change in the rebels’ power structure. They are not sure of winning another election if they dissolve the government.
A senior minister in the cabinet told TOI, “Like us, they too know their weakness. When there is nothing to gain and much to lose, the rebel MLAs would come around and support the government.”
If the situation demands to vote in the house, DMK president M Karunanidhi, who hasn’t been attending assembly proceedings due to ill health, will be brought in to cast his vote, DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan said.
The MLAs were disqualified after they had called on Tamil Nadu Governor expressing lack of confidence in the leadership of Palaniswami and seeking a change of guard. The MLAs had met the governor on August 22, 2017, a day after then rival factions led by Palaniswami and his now deputy Panneerselvam merged their factions after deposing Dhinaknaran as the deputy general secretary.
During the hearing of the petitions which commenced on November 16, senior counsels for the respondents including the speaker, the chief whip, and the chief minister defended the disqualification of the MLAs.
The crux of their argument was that the MLAs had approached the governor with the intention to topple the government headed by Palaniswami and thereby attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law. Senior counsels Abhishek Singhvi and P S Raman who had appeared for the petitioners among others argued that the disqualification of the 18 MLAs was a premeditated ambush.
The Speaker had passed the order based on irrelevant considerations, ignoring relevant considerations which was malice in law, Singhvi had contended. With Karunaas attending a recent 'mock Assembly' held by DMK, it is not clear if he continues to back the ruling party.
Thaniyarasu and Ansari seem to be sailing with the government. Bringing relief to the ruling dispensation, in April, the Madras High Court had dismissed a petition by DMK seeking disqualification of Panneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs for having voted against the Palaniswami government last year when they were in the rebel camp.(With inputs from PTI)