10 dissident MLAs — eight from the DMDK and one each from the Puthiya Thamizhagam and the PMK — resign from Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) leader Vijayakant on Sunday lost his position as Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly as eight of his party’s rebel MLAs handed over their resignations to Speaker P. Dhanapal. This effectively reduced the strength of the DMDK in the outgoing Assembly to 20.
PMK rebel legislator M. Kalaiarasan (expelled from the party in 2014) and Puthiya Tamilagam rebel MLA A. Ramasamy also resigned their memberships. Significantly, they resigned a day after the Assembly’s last session was adjourned sine die on Saturday.
All of them are expected to join the ruling AIADMK as they have openly hailed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa both inside and outside the Assembly in the last several months.
The DMDK had emerged the second largest party in the Assembly in 2011 when 29 of its candidates were elected as part of the AIADMK-led alliance. However, within a couple of years, its senior leader Panruti Ramachandran resigned his membership from the Alandur constituency and joined the ruling AIADMK.
Subsequently at different stages, eight dissident MLAs openly identified themselves with the AIADMK but did not switch camps as it would have attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law. Nonetheless, the dissidents were provided separate seats in the Assembly.
Following the resignation of the dissident MLAs, Assembly Secretary AMP Jamaludeen announced that DMDK leader Vijayakant has ceased to be the Leader of Opposition. “As per Assembly Rules 2 (O), Mr. Vijayakant lost his position and privileges as the Leader of the Opposition,” said Jamaludeen, quoting the Speaker. “No other party including the DMK could stake claim to the Leader of Opposition post, since only parties with at least 24 legislators can be identified as the principal opposition party. The DMK has only 23 members,” Mr Jamaludeen told The Hindu.
The DMDK MLAs who have resigned their posts are K. Pandiarajan (Virudhunagar), C. Arun Pandian (Peravurani), S. Michel Royappan (Radhapuram), R. Sundarrajan (Madurai Central), T. Sureshkumar (Chengam-reserved), K. Tamil Azhagan (Tittakudi), R. Santhi (Senthamangalam-ST) and Arun Subramanian (Tiruttani).