Chennai, Feb. 17 (Agencies): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, a loyalist of AIADMK chief V.K. Sasikala, is expected to sail through the trust vote in the legislative assembly on Saturday, barring last-minute hitches.
The Palaniswami camp today got a minor jolt on Friday when R. Nataraj, a member of the legislative assembly who had earlier sided with him in the tussle with rival O. Panneerselvam, said he would vote against Palaniswami.
“I am constrained to vote against the motion of confidence to be moved by the Edappadi K Palaniswami government,” Nataraj said.
“I have interacted with people in my constituency and their considered and overwhelming opinion is that the government of O Panneerselvam should continue and I have to reflect this opinion of the people in the Assembly,” Nataraj, a Mylapore MLA, told PTI.
The exit of Nataraj, a former chief of Tamil Nadu’s police, has reduced Palaniswami's stated support to 123 members in a House of 234.
The floor test in the Assembly will be the first such exercise the state will witness in about 30 years.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has 134 MLAs in the 234-member House.
Before Nataraj announced his decision, Palaniswami has claimed the support of 124 MLAs and asserted his government will stay.
His rival and predecessor O. Panneerselvam has vowed to continue his fight against Sasikala and her family ”till the time Amma (Jayalalithaa) regime is restored.”
Though Panneerselvam now has the backing of 11 MLAs, experts feel he can jolt the government if he is able to wean away a few legislators from the Palaniswami camp and render it a minority government.
Governor Vidyasagar Rao had given Palaniswami 15 days to prove his majority in the House, but Palaniswami chose to do it within two days.
In fact, many MLAs supporting Sasikala are still staying at the resort in Koovathur, about 90km from Chennai, and are scheduled to set out for the Assembly on Saturday morning.