So Edapaddi Palaniswami had to win a vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday to prove that he had the support of the majority of MLAs and could continue as the state’s chief minister. And what a day of drama it was.
From the beginning, there was high drama with a lot of security outside the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
This, it turned out, upset the media, who discovered they were suddenly being barred from entering, and opposition leader MK Stalin of the DMK.
Arguments break out between media persons and Police after Police denies media entry into TN assembly premises pic.twitter.com/2DfVmoyXHy— ANI (@ANI_news) February 18, 2017
Stalin responded to the high security by walking to the Assembly building.
DMK Working President MK Stalin walked to the Tamil Nadu assembly in protest alleging his car was searched at the entrance pic.twitter.com/foDN4pXL73— ANI (@ANI_news) February 18, 2017
AIADMK MLAs loyal to Sasikala left the resort they have kept in saying that they would win, but as this guy pointed out:
The Tamil Nadu Assembly #FloorTestWhere AIADMK MLAs decide if they want money now, or votes later.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) February 18, 2017
It was as MLAs entered the Assembly that people realised that proceedings weren’t going to be telecast live. It’s not a new thing, the proceedings aren’t telecast live, but Twitterati were appalled that there wouldn’t be any video documenting of proceedings:
No live telecast of TN Assembly? So much for trust vote. They don’t even trust themselves.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) February 18, 2017
Was hoping that the TN Assembly proceedings would be open, and the ballot would be secret.Instead it’s happening the other way round.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) February 18, 2017
People of Tamil Nadu deserve to see what is happening inside the Assembly. Shame why proceedings are not telecast live?— Zakka Jacob (@Zakka_Jacob) February 18, 2017
The doors of the Assembly were locked and no one was allowed to see what was happening inside. But reports kept emerging of just what was happening in the Assembly. So we know that the DMK wanted a secret ballot to be held to allow MLAs to cast their votes. But as someone pointed out, that was always unfeasible:
Secret ballot is not possible in this case. A whip has been issued so anti defection law applies. #TNAssembly— Ganesh Ranganathan (@ganeshran) February 18, 2017
The speaker wanted a voice vote. But that wasn’t acceptable to the DMK who also wanted him to give a chance to let the Panneerselvam faction speak.
Then the last means for the media to know what was happening in the Assembly was severed with the audio connection to the assembly being shut off
But luckily, footage of proceedings emerged, in which MLAs were seen fighting and one DMK MLA even sat in the chair of the Speaker. This was even as the Speaker was taken out of the Assembly, chairs were thrown and there was mayhem:
Proceedings were adjourned as an ambulance was called in to take out an injured MLA and an Assembly official. Much like a football match, except this had already become a completely ridiculous event so far.
When proceedings resumed, the DMK reiterated its demand for a secret ballot. AIADMK refused. There was chaos again. So AIADMK’s Palaniswamy moved a motion for the DMK’s MLAs to be evicted from the Assembly. The Speaker agreed and all DMK MLAs were evicted. And of course, there was emotion:
Then the confidence motion was moved again, with the DMK MLAs protesting in the Assembly premises. There was another adjournment as DMK MLAs were moved out of the Assembly.
DMK chief MK Stalin turned up outside the Assembly to give people this disturbing visual that cannot be unseen:
Meanwhile the confidence vote was held in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Palaniswamy government sailed through with 122 votes.
And then the Tamil Nadu CM ended the day with what seems to be the ritual for everyone from the AIADMK these days: