A group of AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran today met Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao here and sought the removal of Chief Minister K Palaniswami, saying he has lost their confidence. The move came a day after rivals factions led by Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam merged, ending a nearly seven-month feud in a power sharing formula in the ruling party and the government with the rebel leader being made the deputy chief minister. “We don’t have confidence in the chief minister. What is the need to give the deputy chief minister’s post to Panneerselvam who had levelled charges of corruption against this government earlier,” an MLA, who was part of the team that met the governor, said requesting anonymity. He said 122 AIADMK MLAs had supported Palaniswami at the behest of jailed party chief VK Sasikala during the February 18 trust vote while Panneerselvam had voted against the government. He said the chief minister should have held consultations with all the party MLAs before the merger of the two factions. “So we have briefed the governor and said that the chief minister should be removed,” the MLA added.
The MLA lashed out at Panneerselvam, alleging that he had accepted the merger “only for posts” and asked if this was the deputy chief minister’s “dharma yudh” as claimed by him earlier. Raj Bhavan sources confirmed that the meeting took place between the MLAs and the governor, but did not divulge details, including about the number of the delegation. Yesterday, around 18 MLAs were reported to have attended a meeting held by Dhinakaran, the party’s deputy general secretary and nephew of party chief V K Sasikala, at his residence. One of the MLAs P Vetrivel had last night claimed that Dhinakaran enjoyed the support of 25 MLAs. Of the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs excluding the Speaker. Late chief minister Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency is still vacant. Opposition DMK has 89 seats followed by its allies Congress with eight and IUML one seat.