Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s AIADMK faction suffered another blow when Arun Kumar, a legislator from Coimbatore North, jumped ship on Saturday, hours ahead of the vote of confidence.
Speaking to IANS over the phone from Coimbatore, Arun Kumar said: “I left the beach resort… I was not held back.”
He said party cadres and the people were not happy with the current leadership.
Queried on why he decided to boycott the trust vote instead of voting against it, Arun Kumar said he was interested in party unity.
He said his decision was against one family taking control of the party.
With this desertion, the AIADMK led by General Secretary V.K. Sasikala commands the support of 123 legislators, including the Speaker, while the breakaway group led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has 11 legislators.
The opposition includes the DMK with 89 members, Congress (eight) and Indian Union Muslim League (one), while one seat is vacant.
The DMK, Congress and IUMl have said they will vote against the Palaniswami government.
DMK President M. Karunanidhi is unwell. The opposition thus has 97 seats.
The Panneerselvam camp has the support of 11, taking the tally against Palaniswami to 108.
If there is some cross-voting of 8-10 legislators from Sasikala’s camp then it could be curtains for Palaniswami.
On Friday, Palaniswami’s support base suffered erosion by one legislator.
AIADMK legislator representing Mylapore constituency and former Director General of Police (DGP) R. Nataraj on Friday said he would vote against Palaniswami.
The assembly has a total strength of 234, with one seat vacant.
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