Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam Camp Demands Secret Ballot To Decide On Confidence Motion

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Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam Camp Demands Secret Ballot To Decide On Confidence Motion

V K Sasikala has recently dismissed O Panneerselvam from the party's primary membership. (File Photo)

Chennai:  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.

The decision to approach the Speaker on Friday in this regard in the Secretariat was reached following hectic discussions at Mr Panneerselvam's residence on Friday morning.

S Semmalai of Mr Panneerselvam camp said a group of them, representing the former Chief Minister's camp, have urged the Speaker for a secret ballot to decide on the confidence motion.

However, a former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) MP opined that the legislators supporting Mr Panneerselvam should vote against the confidence motion to build a logical progression in their revolt.    

"Mr Panneerselvam and the legislators supporting him should openly vote against the motion of confidence to build on the credibility in the people's mind space," K C Palaniswamy told reporters on Friday.

On Thursday, E Palaniswami of V K Sasikala's camp, was sworn-in as Chief Minister and 30 ministers took oath.

The assembly has been convened on Saturday where Mr Palaniswami with 125 legislators in his camp will seek the confidence of the house for his government.

Seated on the opposite side are Mr Panneerselvam's camp with 10 legislators, DMK with 89 members, Congress (eight), Indian Union Muslim League (one), and one seat is vacant.

"If it is a voice vote then the lung power would decide," said an AIADMK leader on conditions of anonymity.

On the other hand, if secret ballot on the confidence motion is allowed and a whip is issued, the crucial question dangling before Mr Panneerselavam's camp will be weather to obey the whip or defy it.

"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 Ms Sasikala as General Secretary is under dispute and also the appointments made by her. So the question would have to be decided before any legislator can be disqualified," Mr Palaniswami said.

Ms Sasikala had recently dismissed Mr 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 an extensive cross voting, by those supporting Chief Minister Palaniswami in voting against him in the assembly, then the equation would change dramatically, said another AIADMK leader.  

On Thursday, MPs of Mr Panneerselvam clout had met the Election Commission officials and petitioned to disqualify Ms Sasikala's appointment as General Secretary.

The MPs should have pursued the complaints lodged with the EC long back on the subject than submitting a new one, said Ms Palaniswami.

One view is that the government would survive the confidence motion, though DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan has predicted to the contrary.

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