25/10/2018 2:00 PM IST | Updated 31/01/2019 4:12 PM IST

Tamil Nadu: Palaniswami Government Safe for Now After Court Verdict On 18 MLAs, Blow For Dhinakaran

An adverse judgement could have triggered a political realignment in Tamil Nadu and brought the ruling AIADMK perilously close to losing majority in the state assembly.

ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images
A file photo of Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu—The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Thursday hailed the Madras High Court verdict upholding the disqualification of 18 party MLAs, saying it was a "just order".

Party spokesperson P Valarmathi expressed joy over the verdict and said the K Palaniswami government has now proved its 'stability'.

"We are very happy...this is a just order," Valarmathi told PTI.

When asked about the disqualified MLAs' plea to hold by-elections in their constituencies, she said the AIADMK was ready and expressed confidence that the ruling party will emerge victorious in all the 20 seats.

Besides the constituencies of the disqualified MLAs, the Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundram seats had fallen vacant following the deaths of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK's A K Bose respectively.

Justice M Sathyanarayanan had earlier on Thursday upheld the June 14 order of the then Chief Justice disqualifying the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs, in a huge relief to the Palaniswami government.

The 18 MLAs were disqualified on September 18 last year under the anti-defection law after they met the Governor and expressed loss of confidence in the Chief Minister.

An adverse judgement could have triggered a political realignment in Tamil Nadu and brought the ruling party perilously close to losing majority in the state assembly whose effective strength is 232. Two seats are vacant.

The restoration of the membership of the rebel MLAs could have prompted the TTV Dhinakaran camp to join hands with the opposition DMK.

The DMK and its allies the Congress and IUML together have 97 MLAs, and with the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs forging an alliance with them, besides independent legislator Dhinakaran himself, their strength would have risen to 116, which is equal to that of the ruling party.

Reacting to the verdict, Dhinakaran, who now heads the AMMK after being sidelined in the AIADMK, said he would consult the MLAs loyal to him before deciding whether to go in appeal in the Supreme Court.

"We expected a favourable verdict but it is not a setback. I will consult the 18 MLAs on whether to file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Personally, my feeling is we should go for byelections," he said.

Dhinakaran asserted his loyalists will sweep the bypolls. "The court's judgement is different and people's judgement is different," he said, claiming his party and those loyal to it will emerge stronger after the verdict.

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