The Speaker walked out of the Tamil Nadu assembly amid massive chaos as legislators broke chairs and yanked microphones after he ruled out secret voting in a trust vote that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is seeking today.
The trust vote has been postponed to 1 pm. Mr Palaniswami needs to prove that at least 117 legislators in the 234-member state assembly back him.
He has the support of 122, excluding the Speaker, after another AIADMK legislator this morning withdrew his support. This means that even if six of them cross vote, he could lose.
1. Around 8am, AIADMK MLAs corralled in Kuvathur's Golden Bay Resort for more than 10 days started leaving for Chennai.
2. Soon after, the opposition DMK's working president M K Stalin set out for the Assembly, choosing to walk the half-kilometre stretch to the secretariat after his vehicle was stopped for checking by police and security personnel.
3. At 9 pm, AIADMK chief minister EK Palaniswami - of the Sasikala faction -arrived at the secretariat for the floor test. Soon after, journalists said they were being kept out of the Assembly premises.
4. When the session began at 11 am, with 230 MLAs present, CM Palaniswami moved a motion for vote of confidence in the assembly, which speaker P Dhanapal accepted. Soon after, the opposition DMK and the Congress, started raising slogans in favour of the AIADMK's pro-Panneerselvam (OPS) faction, which in turn started loudly demanding a secret ballot. The DMK and the Congress soon joined the chorus for a secret ballot.
5. In fact, the DMK's MK Stalin even told the House the floor test should be done on another day. "Why the hurry when the Governor has given 15 days time?" he asked, even as OPS raised his hands and pressed them together in Stalin's direction, thanking him. OPS also told the House that MLAs should be given time to hear the views of their constituencies. Until then, a floor test shouldn't take place.
6. The speaker rejected the demand for a secret ballot. "Nobody can interfere in my decision on how to vote," speaker Dhanapal said. Then, a little before 11:30 am, all doors to the Tamil Nadu Assembly were shut. Right then, the television telecast of the proceedings was stopped. The audio of the proceedings was also shut.
7. After this, conflicting news trickled out. Some sources said that without a secret ballot, the House began 'division voting', where MLAs were asked to stand up in blocks of six and declare their vote.
8. Other sources said there was chaos in the assembly with chairs and microphones being flung around and broken by opposition DMK members demanding a secret ballot and lawmakers 'gheraoing' the speaker. Reportedly, Ku Ka Selvam, a DMK MLA went and occupied the speaker's chair. An official was also injured, ANI reported. Around 12:15 am, the speaker adjourned the House till 1:00 pm and walked out.
9. After the House resumed at 1:00 pm, all the present DMK MLAs - 88 of 89 - were evicted after proceedings again descended into chaos. Half an hour later, Palaniswami moved a confidence motion again.
10. At 1:30 pm, the House was adjourned again and scheduled to resume at 3:00 pm.