Tamil Nadu witnesses political drama inspired by a Manipur court verdict⁠— even as senior opposition leader Anbazhagan succumbs to COVID-19

<p>Tamil Nadu's Assembly Speaker, P Dhanapal<br></p>BCCL

  • Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party has filed a plea with the Supreme Court against the state’s Assembly Speaker, P Dhanapal.
  • They argue that Dhanapal has been delaying the disqualification of 11 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) MLAs for over three years now.
  • DMK has requested the Supreme Court to use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 as it did to remove Manipur Forest Cabinet Minister T. Shyamkumar from office.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party in Tamil Nadu has filed a plea with the Supreme Court against the state’s Assembly Speaker, P Dhanapal. They allege that he has been delaying the decision to disqualify 11 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) ⁠— the ruling party⁠— legislators for over three years now.

All this is playing out even as a DMK’s senior leader J Anbazhagan succumbed to COVID-19 infection earlier today, on his 62nd birthday.

These members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) had previously voted against Edappadi K. Palaniswami, the incumbent Chief Minister, during a ‘no-confidence’ motion in 2017. The plea for their disqualification has been pending since 20 March 2017 and DMK leader R. Sakkarapani said it will likely remain that way until the government completes its term, unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
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Amit Anand Tiwari, the lead advocate for DMK, told the Supreme Court that even notice to the MLAs was only issued in February 2020, three years after the fact. "Despite that nothing has been done for the last 4 months, whereas the law requires the Speaker to decide a petition from disqualification within an outer limit of three months,” the plea said.

Following the example set in Manipur
The DMK has requested the Supreme Court to use its extraordinary powers under Article 142. It cited the example of how the legislation was recently used to strip Manipur Forest Cabinet Minister T. Shyamkumar from office and ban him from entering the Assembly after the Speaker continued to delay the decision of his disqualification for defection under the Tenth Schedule.

Shyamkumar contested the elections on a Congress ticket and switched sides to favour the BJP after coming to power.
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According to the DMK, the precedent set by that judgement should also apply to the Tamil Nadu Speaker. The plea seeks direction to hold the “deliberate action” of the Speaker to not disqualify the MLAs as “arbitrary and violative” of fundamental rights.

The election heat is building up
Tamil Nadu is set for an election in May 2021 and this could be the first political heat in the run-up to it. AIADMK is seen as an ally of Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

However, in 2019 the DMK claimed victory for the first time in eight years during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections after AIADMK General Secretary and Chief Minister, J. Jayalalitha passed away in 2016.
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DMK has been busy picking up the pieces after their previous chief M Karunanidhi, passed away in 2018. He ensured a 40/40 win of the DMK-led coalition in 2004 despite AIADMK’s Jayalalitha being at the helm at the time. The current DMK President, MK Stalin is at his strongest since the party lost the Assembly polls in 2016.

In his absence, Stalin has been establishing himself as a strong regional leader, leading the charge against the central government on issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), federalism, and the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states.

This will be the first Assembly election without both Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi.
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