Chennai: In a show of strength, the unified AIADMK led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday held a meeting of its legislators and claimed the backing of 124 MLAs, including nine from the sidelined deputy chief TTV Dhinkaran's camp.
The assertion came after the meeting convened by Palaniswami amid persistent demand by the opposition for a floor test after rebellion by 21 MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran.
Senior minister and key supporter of the Chief Minister D Jayakumar told reporters that 111 MLAs attended the meeting expressing support to Palaniswami and signed the party register.
Nine MLAs from "that camp" (Dhinakaran faction) also extended support to the Chief Minister over phone, he claimed, emerging from the meeting held at party headquarters here.
Jayakumar said three MLAs of allied parties, who contested last year's assembly polls on AIADMK's Two Leaves symbol, have also pledged support to Palaniswami as also another party MLA who could not attend due to health reasons.
It may be recalled that a group of 19 MLAs loyal to Dhinakaran had met Governor Ch Vidayasagar Rao on August 22 expressing lack of confidence in the Chief Minister.
This came a day after the merger of factions led by Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, presently the Deputy Chief Minister.
The internal strife in AIADMK prompted the opposition parties to claim that the Palaniswami government has lost majority and seek a floor test in the assembly.
In the 234-member assembly which has one seat vacant, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs excluding the Speaker while the DMK-led opposition has 98 legislators.
DMK Working President M K Stalin claimed that only 109 AIADMK MLAs reportedly took part in a meet chaired by Chief Minister K Palaniswai and renewed his party's demand for a floor test in the assembly to prove the majority of the government.
"News is coming that only 109 MLAs took part in the meet," Stalin said adding the turn out at the meet strengthened his party's view that delaying a floor test would lead to horse-trading.