Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

When Tamil Nadu Assembly turned into a virtual war zone: A blow by blow account

Tamil Nadu Assembly trust vote: As the House saw continued pandemonium, a visibly distraught Speaker P Dhanapal rose from his seat and said, "I am hurt and ashamed," after declaring the result of the vote.

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Torn shirts, mics yanked, chairs broken bore raw testimony to the high drama and bedlam that played out inside the Tamil Nadu Assembly as a precursor to the eventual victory of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami government as it won the crucial floor test in the House on Saturday. Even though the AIADMK government sailed through the vote of confidence with a 122-11 margin, the House witnessed unruly scenes of jostling and strident sloganeering by the opposition MLAs.

As the House saw continued pandemonium, a visibly distraught Speaker P Dhanapal rose from his seat and said, “I am hurt and ashamed,” after declaring the result of the vote. He claimed that even though he was manhandled and shirt was torn, he reconvened the House. “The House will function only according to rules,” he asserted, in a bid to calm down the unruly opppsotion. DMK MLAs had gheraoed the Speaker, apart from breaking his table, throwing chairs, tearing papers and flinging his microphone across the floor. DMK MLA Poongothai Aladi Aruna climbed on the bench, demanding a secret ballot. DMK MLA Ku Ka Selvam sat on the Speaker’s chair in protest.

Edappadi Palaniswami wins trust vote: LIVE UPDATES

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For about an hour, the House turned into a virtual war zone after the Speaker ordered the eviction of DMK members with marshals trying hard to remove them. The DMK members, on their part, resisted eviction with all their might. An agitated Stalin, the DMK’s working president, told the watch and ward staff that the members would harm themselves if they were taken out. He told the large number of watch and ward staff that “People are against this proxy regime, we are fighting for the people.” “If you try to evict us by force, we would be constrained to harm ourselves, we may even consider suicide,” he soon threatened.

READ: Tamil Nadu floor test: Chief Minister E Palaniswami wins trust vote, will retain power

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Subsequently, top police officials led by city Police Commissioner S George arrived in the Assembly precincts and held hectic consultations. The marshals were then instructed to physically evict the DMK members. The party members resisted by whatever means they could. Stalin, for instance, thumped his head with his hands and shook his legs hard. Meanwhile, 78-year old DMK leader Duraimurugan played hide and seek with marshals, as he succesfully evaded eviction for a while. While he was being led outside, he somehow managed to come back to the House through the corridors from near the main entrance. When marshals tried to prevent him from entering the House, he managed to sneak into the press gallery and crossed over to the Opposition benches from there.

ALSO READ: Tamil Nadu floor test: We doubt the validity of trust vote, says O Panneerselvam

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Some opposition MLAs also splashed water. In the process, two video cameras placed near the Fourth Block fell. DMK’s Sekar Babu squatted opposite the main entrance to the House along with several of his colleagues, arguing with top officials that they had no legal right to remove a legislator from the House precincts.

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Finally by around 2:50 pm, all the DMK members were evicted from the precints, in time for the House to take up the motion of confidence ten minutes later. Journalists had to put up with severe restrictions on their movement at the entry and exit points to the House. The floor test in the Assembly was the first such exercise in the state in about 30 years.

READ: Kamal Haasan mocks TN MLAs, tells people to ‘welcome them with respect they deserve’

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Outside the Assembly, a different scene was being played out. Stalin alleged he was assaulted in the Assembly as she showed his torn shirt to reporters waiting outside. He immediately dashed off to the Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor to complain about the incidents. “Now we have given a letter to the Speaker to postpone the Session,” he said, adding they were proceeding to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to explain the incidents that occurred in the Assembly. In the letter to the Governor, the DMK complained about their eviction from the assembly and sought postponement of the session to enable a secret voting.

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“The agenda of Speaker (P Dhanapal) is to go ahead with voting and announce that the Chief Minister has succeeded in getting the confidence of the House, in the absence of the DMK members. This is totally foul play and unconstitutional,” it said.

In the meantime, former chief minister O Panneerselvam told reporters that his faction had kept two demands before Speaker, one was to send MLAs to their constituencies, but Speaker didn’t agree to them. He challenged the validity of the trust vote. “DMK MLAs for three hours kept on repeating their request to save democracy, now in absence of all of us, vote was passed. We doubt its validity,” said Panneerselvam.

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Pandiarajan from OPS camp also rallied his voice against the proceedings inside the House when he said, “There were constant threats, abusive language was used. Things would’ve been different if secret ballot was done.” Another DMK leader TKS Elangovan said in the same vein: “After adjournment made by Speaker, how did vote take place? All MLAs were scared to cast votes in favour of trust vote.”

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva condemned the thrashing of MLAs inside the House. “We condemn the thrashing of MLAs. This is murder of democracy and can’t be accepted in any form.”

After all the brouhaha, CM Palaniswami along with AIADMK MLAs went to Jayalalithaa’s memorial to pay tributes to her following the successful trust vote. In a statement to the media at Jaya’s memorial, he said, “Everybody watched how rival faction worked against Amma’s govt. This day brought forward real Amma supporters.”

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Stalin, who was also present at the Marina Beach, was detained after he sat on a protest against the alleged attack on him and his party MLAs during the trust vote in the state Assembly. He emphatically termed today as a “black day” for democracy as he urged all those who wanted to “remove” the “anti-democratic” AIADMK government to join him.

Incidentally, the Marina had witnessed a week-long pro-jallikattu protests in January where scores of people, mainly youngsters had converged at the sands of the famous beach and agitated before it turned violent. Meanwhile, several DMK workers blocked vehicular traffic and indulged in stone-pelting in different places in the state to protest the alleged attack on Stalin, police said.

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The opposition today expressed concern over the unruly incidents inside the House. BJP said while there was all round expectations of a healthy scenario in politics, “in Tamil Nadu it has ended with a scuffle.” “Whatever may be (the end result), its the desire of all  to see a government without any scam taint. Lets wait and see, whether this is a government for the people. Else they will boycott it,” state BJP chief Tamilisai Sounderrajan said in a statement.
“People want a stable government, not a shadow government,” she said.

In the meantime, Palaniswami told his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan that he was looking “forward to sustained and productive relations with” his state. He said in a message: “I convey my best wishes to you and look forward to sustained and productive relations with the State of Kerala and its people.”

First published on: 18-02-2017 at 07:48:26 pm
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