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O Panneerselvam Revives Legal Battle Against E Palaniswami, Seeks Another Trust Vote in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court has sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal on July 11 over a plea by former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam who has revived his legal battle against incumbent E Palaniswami and jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 5, 2017, 11:54 AM IST
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O Panneerselvam Revives Legal Battle Against E Palaniswami, Seeks Another Trust Vote in Tamil Nadu
O Panneerselvam heads one of the warring factions of the AIADMK, (File Photo)
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal on July 11 over a plea by former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam who has revived his legal battle against incumbent E Palaniswami and jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala.

In his petition, Panneerselvam, who heads one of the warring factions of the AIADMK, has alleged that he had resigned under duress and has challenged the violence-marred proceedings of the February 18 trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. Panneerselvam has also alleged that MLAs were threatened to vote for Palaniswami and has sought another trust vote via secret ballot. The petition was filed by Panneerselvam's aide K Pandiarajan.

On February 16, Palaniswami was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu following a bitter power struggle between Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala, the longtime aide of the late J Jayalalithaa. Two days later, Palaniswami won the trust vote 122-11 in the 234-member assembly. The floor test had witnessed chaotic scenes that led to the eviction of the main opposition DMK and a walkout by its allies in protest.

Challenging the Speaker’s decision to conduct the Vote of Confidence motion, the petition, which annexes Panneerselvam's affidavit in its support, has claimed that 122 AIADMK MLAs had come to the Assembly directly from the alleged captivity of Sasikala’s aides, and that it was incumbent upon the Speaker to postpone the proceedings.

The petition questioned why the motion was not carried out through a secret ballot when Panneerselvam had requested the Speaker to get the voting done through such a ballot in view of peculiar circumstances of the case.

According to Panneerselvam, the Speaker was empowered under the Rule of Business to order a secret ballot voting since the MLAs had allegedly been confined in a resort after the apex court on February 14 convicted and sentenced AIADMK general secretary Sasikala to four years in jail in a disproportionate assets case which also involved Jayalalithaa. The court order dashed Sasikala’s hopes of becoming chief minister and she chose Palaniswami to be the leader of the party and head the government.

Sources said the petition also claims that the vote of confidence taken in the absence of the DMK members was void since it was in violation of the Rules of Business.

After the trust vote, the party split in two with one faction led by Palaniswami and another by Panneerselvam. The party’s ‘two leaves’ election symbol has been frozen by the Election Commission after both factions staked claim to it. Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran was recently arrested for allegedly plotting to bribe an EC official ahead of elections in RK Nagar, the assembly constituency of the late Jayalalithaa.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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