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Continuing the series on impact of the disqualification case concerning 18 AIADMK MLAs, presents a third scenario in the event of the 18 MLAs winning their case against the disqualification of their membership in the Tamil Nadu  Assembly. (The first article can be read here)

A major problem for TTV Dinakaran, AMMK leader, would be the huge market value that would be attached to each of these 18 MLAs. The Edappadi government would go all out to woo at least some of them back to the fold of the ruling party. Dinakaran’s uncle Dhivakaran had been roped in to carry out an operation in this regard. Initially, the party claimed that the support of at least seven MLAs had been assured, and that the Edappadi government would sail through any confidence motion or no-confidence motion. However, the Dinakaran camp has put out an impressive show of unity and consolidation of a good chunk of cadres at district-level meetings of the AMMK in all parts of Tamil Nadu. These rallies have helped consolidate the AMMK in its battle against the ruling AIADMK and also boosted the confidence of the AMMK.

At the moment, Dinakaran has managed to keep his flock together. However,  in the next few weeks, he will have to use every possible method in the face of temptation and pressure tactics from the AIADMK government with the possible backing of Central government agencies. This battle would be a huge task for Dinakaran.

Dinakaran group MLAs have to function as AIADMK MLAs in Assembly and outside

Another major snag for the 18 MLAs, if victorious in this round of the legal tangle, would be that they cannot officially take part in meetings of the AMMK, especially its bodies like the executive committee or general council, or legislature party meetings, since that could be used to file a fresh disqualification motion against them. They cannot accept any AMMK party post. For all practical purposes, they will have to behave as MLAs of the ruling AIADMK. Privately, they can meet Dinakaran but this too would have to be done cleverly – birthday parties, marriage functions, funerals etc – so as not to attract a disqualification move. In the Assembly, these MLAs would have to function as members of the Edappadi-led AIADMK. They can give subtle hints like praise of Dinakaran at an individual level but cannot call him their leader.

In the next few weeks, Dinakaran will have to use every possible method in the face of temptation and pressure tactics from the AIADMK government with the possible backing of Central government agencies.

However, they can give pin-pricks to the government in the form of criticism of AIADMK government decisions, even raise charges of corruption in the Assembly and outside if given opportunity by the Speaker to voice their issues.The ruling AIADMK will have to stomach the tirade of the 19 MLAs, though they may be subjected to verbal abuse from AIADMK leaders,  as expulsion will mean these MLAs can retain their membership and gain freedom, but will have to be Independents. If the 18 MLAs do manage to enter the Assembly, this group of  19 led by Dinakaran, could embarrass the government on a regular basis.

Despite all this, the 18 MLAs would have to maintain their drama of functioning within the AIADMK at least till the next elections to the Assembly.

Or, they would have to hope for sweeping changes in the next few months like an exodus of MLAs from the Edappadi camp to the Dinakaran group. If the number swells to 30 or 40, they could put pressure on the AIADMK Legislature Party to elect a new leader, and replace Edappadi Palaniswamy with a CM who would have their approval.

Will the Edappadi camp go in for compromise with Dinakaran then?

Faced with the threat of a government collapse, the AIADMK mood could then change from confrontation to consensus and compromise. Although the AIADMK has opposed reconciliation moves, insiders say this is largely due to the obstacles placed by the O Panneerselvam group. With only a dozen or so MLAs supporting OPS, party managers may put pressure on the OPS group to accept a compromise with the Dinakaran group. The choice would be compromise or a mid-term poll to the State Assembly. When push comes to shove, majority of the AIADMK MLAs would prefer a compromise to retain their MLA posts rather than go to the people when the party is on a weak wicket in the face of corruption charges against several ministers.

There can be an intensive bout of horse trading in the AIADMK camps come October.

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