Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s camp has demanded secret ballot on Saturday when the motion of confidence is moved in the assembly, leaders said.
After holding hectic discussions at Panneerselvam’s residence on Friday morning, a small group of AIADMK leaders met the Speaker in the Secretariat and demanded secret ballot on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters, S. Semmalai, part of the Panneerselvam camp, said they have urged the Speaker for a secret ballot to decide on the motion of confidence.
However, a former MP of AIADMK is of the view that the legislators supporting Panneerselvam should vote against the confidence motion as a logical progression in their revolt.
“Panneerselvam and the legislators supporting him should openly vote against the motion of confidence and to build the credibility in the people’s mind space,” K.C. Palaniswamy told IANS on Friday.
On Thursday, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, of the Sasikala camp, was sworn in as Chief Minister and 30 ministers also took the oath.
The assembly has been convened on Saturday where Palaniswami with 125 legislators in his camp will seek the confidence of the house for his government.
Ranged on the opposite side are the Panneerselvam camp with 10 legislators, DMK with 89 members, Congress – eight, Indian Union Muslim League with one, and one seat is vacant.
An AIADMK leader not wanting to be quoted told IANS: “If it is a voice vote then the lung power would decide.”
On the other hand, if secret ballot on the confidence motion is allowed and a whip is also issued, the issue before the Panneerselavam camp is whether to abide by the whip or disobey.
“In case if they disobey whether they could be disqualified as legislators under the anti-defection law is a point to ponder,” an AIADMK leader said.
“The party whip has to take orders from the leader before issuing any whip on the way in which legislators are to vote. In AIADMK’s case, the appointment of Sasikala as General Secretary is under dispute and also the appointments made by her. So that question would have to be decided before any legislator can be disqualified,” Palaniswamy said.
Sasikala had recently dismissed Panneerselvam and K. Pandiarajan from the primary membership of the party and both are outside the purview of the anti-defection law.
If there is a large number of cross voting — by those supporting Chief Minister Palaniswami voting against him in the assembly – then the dynamics would change, an AIADMK leader said.
On Thursday, MPs belonging to the Panneerselvam camp had met Election Commission officials and petitioned to disqualify Sasikala’s appointment as General Secretary.
The MPs should have pursued the complaints lodged with the Election Commission long back on the subject than submitting a new one, said Palaniswamy.
One view is that the government would survive the confidence motion, though DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan has predicted to the contrary.