Chaos prevailed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday, during the floor test held for Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to prove his majority. Palaniswami faced opposition from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam as well as O Panneerselvam’s faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The Congress and Indian Union Muslim League’s MLA also said they would also vote against him. He needed at least 116 votes to win the floor test.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Working President MK Stalin had demanded that the floor test be postponed after Speaker P Dhanapal rejected the plea for secret ballot, while Panneerselvam had asked that the legislators consult the public in their constituencies before the vote. However, the speaker rejected both demands.
Here is how the day unfolded:
6.20 pm: Stalin has submitted a letter to the governor.
5.35 pm: Speaker Dhanapal says the DMK’s behaviour in the Assembly today was disrespectful to the community that he is from – the Adi Dravidar community. “I am from a very disadvantaged family, Amma [Jayalalithaa] uplifted me”.
5 pm: Reports say violence is breaking out in parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu.
4.45 pm: DMK legislators, including Stalin, who were protesting at Marina Beach are reportedly being arrested.
4.30 pm: Palaniswami claims the DMK colluded with Panneerselvam to bring down the government, and that the DMK were insistent on disrupting the Assembly session. “All the people in Tamil Nadu are very happy we have won the floor test,” he says.
4.05 pm: After meeting the governor, Stalin will go on hunger strike at Gandhi statue, Marina Beach, to protest how the trust vote was handled. Traffic near the Chennai beach has been diverted.
3.40 pm: Jayalalithaa loyalist and ousted AIADMK leader Panneerselvam addresses the media. He explains that the DMK and his supporters had asked Speaker Dhanapal to send MLAs to their constituencies and hold the vote after they returned. Dhanapal did not accept.
3.30 pm: AIADMK workers celebrate outside Jayalalithaa’s home after Palaniswami, successor to VK Sasikala, wins trust vote in Assembly.
3.25 pm: Palaniswami wins vote 122-11.
3.18 pm: Speaker Dhanapal says voice vote is the convention, and the vote begins.
3.15 pm: Congress MLAs walk out of Assembly.
3.10 pm: DMK legislator TRB Raja tells The News Minute that police entered the Assembly and assaulted them, and that the Speaker did not listen to them even after Stalin had apologised for their behaviour. “We were protesting democratically, but the Speaker refused to listen to our demands.”
3 pm: Assembly resumes.
2.50 pm: Stalin, other DMK leaders likely to meet Governor Vidyasagar Rao. With their expulsion, it is more likely for Palaniswami to win the vote.
2.40 pm: DMK working president MK Stalin also evicted from Assembly.
2.14 pm: DMK MLAs being forcibly removed from Assembly complex.
1.53 pm: Chief secretary meets Speaker P Dhanapal.
1.40 pm: DMK members to remain inside the Assembly and continue their protest. The party’s working president Stalin has decided not to move.
1.30 pm: Assembly adjourned till 3 pm.
1.26 pm: Assembly guards surround Speaker P Dhanapal.
1.24 pm: DMK members clash with guards.
1.19 pm: DMK members have hurt the values of Assembly, says Speaker.
1.18 pm: DMK members being carried out of Assembly by guards.
1.16 pm: Speaker P Dhanapal orders DMK members to be evicted from Assembly.
1.09 pm: Assembly convenes again.
1.06 pm: Edited visuals of the chaos released.
12.57 pm: The police block roads leading to Assembly.
12.49 pm: Assembly employee Balaji taken in an ambulance.
12.42 pm: A member being brought out of Assembly. Ambulance on the premise.
12.35 pm: Meeting between Palaniswami and other senior ministers under way, ANI reported.
12.15 pm: Speaker P Dhanapal adjourns Assembly till 1 pm. Walks out after protests disrupt the session.
12.12 pm: Chair in front of the Speaker broken amid protests.
12.10 pm: DMK MLA Poongothai Aladi Aruna climbs on bench and raises slogans, demanding secret ballot.
12.07 pm: Opposition MLAs move towards the well to protest. Won’t allow voting, they say.
12:01 pm: MLAs held in captivity. Not a fair vote, says Stalin.
11.44 am: Floor test yet to begin.
11.38 am: Panneerselvam says floor test cannot be held without speaking to the people of Tamil Nadu first.
11.35 am: According to reports, Dhanapal rejects Stalin’s request to defer the vote to another day.
11.30 am: Trust vote has not yet begun, amid more demands for a secret ballot. Stalin also said there was no hurry to hold a vote since Palaniswami has been given 15 days (from Thursday, February 16) to prove his majority.
11.25 am: Dhanapal rejects demand for secret ballot, says MLAs will be given adequate security.
11.18 am: OPS’ faction also asks for secret ballot.
11.15 am: The DMK, Congress and IUML ask that a secret ballot be held.
11.08 am: Chief Minister Palaniswami moves confidence motion in the Assembly.
11.02 am: Chaos as several MLAs speak for and against Palaniswami, and shout slogans.
11 am: Assembly session convened.
All India Congress Committee President Rahul Gandhi had directed the eight Congress MLAs to vote against Palaniswami’s AIADMK government. On Friday, state Congress President S Thirunavukkarasar told reporters he was awaiting directions from the party headquarters and that their eight MLAs will attend the trust vote. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam said its 89 MLAs and the Indian Union Muslim League’s lone MLA said they would vote against Palaniswami during the floor test.
Palaniswami was sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Thursday along with 31 state Cabinet ministers, more than 10 days after ousted leader O Panneerselvam had resigned from the post and later requested Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to allow him to withdraw his resignation.
The four-time MLA from Edappadi, Salem district, had told Rao that he had the support of 123 legislators. Palanisamy was elected the AIADMK’s legislative party leader after General Secretary VK Sasikala was convicted in a disproportionate assets case.
The crisis in the state had begun after Sasikala was announced the next chief minister and Panneerselvam had resigned after a meeting of AIADMK legislators. Panneerselvam had then revolted against Sasikala, who was an aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam appointed Semmalai as its new chief on Saturday.