Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal issued notices to three All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs on Tuesday after they allegedly switched sides and pledged their support to TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, reported PTI. The Speaker has asked A Prabhu, VT Kalaiselvan and E Rathinasabapathy why they should not be disqualified from the House.

The Speaker’s notice comes four days after Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam and AIADMK whip S Rajendran submitted a petition to Dhanapal asking him to initiate action against the three legislators for alleged anti-party activities. They submitted their photographs with Dhinakaran as proof of their anti-party activities. The three MLAs have been given a week’s time to respond.

In September 2017, Dhanapal had disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs after they pledged their support to Dhinakaran. In the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK now has a strength of 113, excluding the Speaker. The DMK and its allies, including Congress, have 97 MLAs. The simple majority mark in the full House is 118, but there are 22 vacancies presently, for which bye-polls are being held. Eighteen Assembly seats went for bye-polls on April 18 and the remaining four will go to polls on May 19.

Opposition parties like Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have opposed any possible disqualification of the three MLAs, reported The New Indian Express. The DMK called Dhanapal’s move “murder of democracy” and submitted a resolution seeking his removal from the Speaker’s post. DMK leader MK Stalin issued a notice for a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.

Dhinakaran’s aide Thanga Tamilselvan called it a panic reaction of the AIADMK as the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections in the state is imminent. “They have lost all hope, and hence resorting to this,” Tamilselvan told the Hindustan Times.

“The Speaker is once again misusing the powers vested with him,” he said. “The disqualification of 18 MLAs in 2017 itself was an unethical move and a murder of democracy. Now, he is proceeding on the same path. This clearly shows how rattled is the AIADMK leadership about facing a whitewash in the Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly bye-polls.”