The verdict of the third judge, Justice Sathyanarayanan, upholding of the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs, has come as a shot in the arm for the ruling AIADMK and its chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami. The AIADMK government, which has moving from one crisis to another, can consider itself safe for a few more months.
Though the AIADMK is in a minority, it can survive at least for a few months till the verdict in the by-elections to the State Assembly or the final verdict of the Supreme Court in the disqualification case. An adverse verdict from the SC could still pose a problem to the government later but the ruling AIADMK could at least buy time.
The judgment has come as a disappointment, even a shocker for the Dinakaran camp which was hoping for a game-judging verdict. With the help of these 18 MLAs, TTV Dinakaran, head of the rebel AMMK, was planning a major offensive against the Edappadi government with 25 MLAs on his side.
Now, Dinakaran will have a tough time to keep his flock together. His attempt to widen cracks in the AIADMK camp will also weaken.
However, the verdict creates a fresh problem for the AIADMK as it would have to get ready to face the electorate.
Though chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami was quick to celebrate the victory at the party headquarters, AIADMK sources are wary of the prospect of facing fresh hurdles in the Supreme Court and in the by-elections.
For the DMK, the verdict provides an opportunity to improve its strength and secure a majority in the Assembly. The DMK-led alliance which includes the Congress and the IUML, has 97 MLAs in the Assembly.
The Dinakaran camp is now reduced to seven, including three representatives of other parties like Karunas elected on AIADK symbol in the 2016 general elections.
The ruling AIADMK has a strength of only 109 in the 234-strong House, while the combined opposition has 104 MLAs. The Assembly strength has now come down to 214 in view of the 20 vacancies. With 109 AIADMK MLAs at its command, the Edappadi government can face a floor test and win it if there are no further defections.
Today’s verdict by the third judge has also vacated the stay on the floor test and the holding of the by-polls to fill the vacancies.