Chennai: After several months of anticipation, the fate of the Tamil Nadu government has been decided on Thursday (October 25) as  Justice M Sathyanarayanan delivered the verdict on the 18 AIADMK legislators’ disqualification case at 10:30 am today. The Madras High Court upheld the decision of the speaker.

Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified the 18 AIADMK legislators in September, 2017 for defying chief minister K Palaniswami and extending support to ousted party leader TTV Dinakaran.

The meeting between the 18 MLAs with then Governor Vidyasagar Rao in August, 2017, urged the speaker to decide on disqualifying them as they submitted a letter 'withdrawing their support' to the chief minister.

The speaker disqualified the 18 legislators by exercising his powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (popularly known as anti-defection law) and the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection) Rules of 1986.

The verdict in the case could decide the longevity of the AIADMK government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami.

The total strength of the Tamil Nadu Assembly is 234. With the demise of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AK Bose, the count has now reduced to 232. Edappadi Palaniswami has 110 MLAs on his side excluding the Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker, who will exercise his vote in the event of a tie. DMK and their allies have got 97 MLAs on their side. And the man currently playing resort politics is TTV Dinakaran having 24 MLAs on his side including the 18 disqualified MLAs, all of them holed up at Courtallam, Tamil Nadu. 

How will things play out now? 

The strength of the Assembly drops to 213. EPS government will scrape through with a wafer-thin majority of 110. The 18 constituencies will witness by-polls, which will have an impact on Palaniswami’s government. 

If the DMK enjoys a thumping victory, it could bring down the current government. But DMK will need numbers to form the next government. 

But if AIADMK gets more seats, Palaniswami and deputy chief minister Panneerselvam can breath a sigh of relief until 2021. 

AIADMK government led by Palaniswami has welcomed the verdict. Meanwhile, ousted AIADMK leader, who founded Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), TTV Dinakaran said, “We accept the court’s order. We will discuss the next course of action with the MLAs. Whether to accept the verdict or not will be a collective decision.”