Chennai: Sasikala loyalist Edappadi K Palanisamy on Saturday won an easy trust vote 122-11, aided by the eviction of main opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn and hurled around.
The Legislative Assembly was reduced to a battleground, with Speaker P Dhanapal pushed and shoved around by agitated DMK MLAs whose leader M K Stalin warned they would commit "suicide" if attempts were made to marshal them out by the order of the chair before the crucial trust vote was conducted in their absence.
Palanisamy won a resounding majority with 122 AIADMK MLAs supporting him during the vote of confidence after those of the DMK were evicted and its allies staged a noisy walkout.
Together they accounted for 98 MLAs in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly.
For all his spirited challenge, Palanisamy's rival O Panneerselvam could muster support of only 11 MLAs.
The division vote was taken up after two adjournments following tempestuous scenes during which the opposition MLAs insisted on a secret vote, a demand rejected outright by Speaker Dhanapal.
Soon Dhanapal was surrounded by a swarm of agitated DMK members, one of whom was seen trying to snatch the microphone from him.
Some angry opposition MLAs were seen hoisting and menacingly waving the chairs of official assembly reporters, while others tore sheets of paper and flung those around, including some towards the Speaker's podium.
A few opposition MLAs were seen pushing the Speaker, prompting the watch and ward staff to immediately throw a security cordon around him and escort him to safety.
The shirts of Speaker Dhanapal and Leader of the Opposition Stalin were torn in the melee.
After adjournments, when the House reassembled at 3 PM, Speaker Dhanapal, allowed Panneerselvam, who was among the votaries of a secret vote, Congress Legislature Party leader K R Ramasamy and IUML member Abubacker to make brief remarks.
The Speaker then ordered a block-wise division during which the MLAs were to stand in order to support or oppose the resolution moved by Palaniswami seeking confidence of the House.
The Palanisamy government sailed through the trust vote having garnered the support of 122 MLAs, with the DMK seats empty. Panneerselvam's 11 MLAs voted against the resolution. DMK's allies and Congress walked out and did not participate in the voting.
Reacting to the confidence vote, Panneerselvam later said that those AIADMK MLAs who voted for Palanisamy had betrayed the trust of the people. He added that they may not be able to return to their constituencies, and that only the people would decide if the trust vote was valid.
The former CM added that Sasikala’s family, whom Jayalalithaa had expelled, was now back in power. He said the ‘dharma yudh’ would go on until ‘Amma’s rule’ was established in Tamil Nadu.
But Speaker P Dhanpal claimed that the Palanisamy government had an absolute majority and would have won the confidence vote even if he had not expelled the DMK MLAs from the Assembly.
Following his victory, Palanisamy attacked Panneerselvam, stating that he worked against Amma and that the 'real supporters' of Jayalalithaa had finally won. He also said that the vow taken by AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala at Jayalalithaa's memorial had been fulfilled too.
Stalin for his part began a hunger strike against the vote, along with several MLAs, at Marina beach in Chennai. However he was soon arrested by the police.
In a letter to the Governor which he presented while meeting him, Stalin said the Assembly session should be postponed and a new session should be held where secret ballot would be used in the confidence vote. However, the Tamil Nadu Assembly adjourned sine die after Sasikala pick Palanisamy won the vote.