A day before newly-anointed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami's government faces a vote of confidence in the state Assembly to prove its majority, various factions are in last minute preparations to win their sides.
While the Assembly will see a confidence vote after almost 25 years, the various factions are busy attacking each other to prove their respective cases.
Palaniswami, who took over the government along with 30 ministers on Thursday evening, was expected to visit Bengaluru to meet All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary V K Sasikala, who has been sentenced to complete four years of imprisonment in the Bengaluru jail in a disproportionate assets case. However, party leaders said that his visit to Bengaluru might take place after the Assembly meeting on Saturday.
Palaniswami was elected as the chief minister by the Sasikala faction, which is now lead by party Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran, while former chief minister O Panneerselvam
raised a revolt against the AIADMK
leadership alleging that he was forced to resign against his will by Sasikala and her family.
Following the swearing in of Palaniswami, Panneerselvam's official residence in Chennai and his residence and office in his home town of Theni were reportedly attacked by the other faction.
The Panneerselvam faction was seemingly weakened after Sasikala selected Palaniswami as the legislature party leader immediately after she was convicted on Wednesday. Further, contradicting the Panneerselvam faction's allegations that Sasikala was holding the party's MLAs against their will at a resort near Chennai, the MLAs concerned have said that they were staying together in the resort out of their own free will. These MLAs are likely to back Palaniswami in the confidence vote. At present, the Sasikala faction claims support of 124 MLAs in the Assembly. On the other side, till two days back at least, Panneerselvam had the backing of around 10 MLAs and 12 MPs.
The main Opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has around 89 seats in the Assembly, has said that it would not support either of the factions in the voting. The party has asked all its MLAs to stay put in Chennai and will be holding a meeting on Friday evening to decide on its action plan.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan told reports that the state should be saved from a government run by a family and said that the Palaniswami government's future would be decided in the confidence vote. BJP, which has been looking for an entry into the state for some time now, has no member in the Assembly.
"The Indian National
Congress, which has eight members in the Assembly, would back its ally DMK, and AIADMK
has not asked it for support," said Congress
leader S Vijayatharani.
"The Indian Union Muslim League, which has one seat in the Assembly, will decide on its vote by the end of the day," said the party officials.
After a long wait, Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday morning invited Palaniswami to form the government and asked him to go for a vote of confidence in the state Assembly within 15 days. However, AIADMK
has decided to go for a vote of confidence on Saturday itself and has kept its MLAs united in the resort, where they have been staying for more than a week now. The Panneerselvam faction, however, has claimed that the sentiments of the people are with them. Panneerselvam, who earlier stated with confidence that he would win majority in the Assembly, is now preparing for a larger protest against what he calls family politics in AIADMK.