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TN: Palaniswami, AIADMK Members Held for Staging Protest; Rival Faction Attends Assembly

Palaniswami alleged "murder of democracy" and accused Chief Minister Stalin of attempting to 'demolish' AIADMK through Panneerselvam.
Police detain AIADMK interim General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami during a protest against Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker Apavoo at Valluvarkottam, in Chennai.

Police detain AIADMK interim General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami during a protest against Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker Apavoo at Valluvarkottam, in Chennai. Image Courtesy: PTI

Chennai: The Opposition AIADMK presented a picture of contrast on Wednesday with former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam attending the Assembly session while the Leader of Opposition K Palaniswami staged a protest here, demanding that the Speaker de-recognise the former as deputy floor leader of the party.

The principal opposition had boycotted the last day of the three-day Assembly session on Wednesday to seek the Assembly Speaker to accept the party's R B Udayakumar as the new deputy floor leader, replacing Panneerselvam, who has been removed from the party.

Clad in black shirts and white dhotis, the AIADMK members gathered in large numbers at the historic Valluvar Kottam here to stage a fast agitation demanding that Udayakumar be allotted Panneerselvam's chair in the Assembly.

They raised slogans denouncing the ruling DMK. The party's women cadres turned up for the agitation wearing black sarees.

The police detained Palaniswami, who is AIADMK's interim general secretary, along with his party members for staging a protest without police permission.

As a result, hundreds of agitating members were shifted to the Rajarathnam stadium, here, before being released.

Speaking to reporters at the stadium, Palaniswami alleged "murder of democracy" and accused Chief Minister M K Stalin of attempting to 'demolish' the AIADMK through Panneerselvam.

When the police, present on the occasion, objected to giving a byte to the media, a visibly annoyed Palaniswami raised his voice against the police. Immediately, the party members shouted at the police and Palaniswami had to restrain the AIADMK members.

Resuming after the brief disruption, he announced that the agitation would continue till Udayakumar is accepted by the Assembly Speaker and made to occupy Panneerselvam's chair, next to him.

"The Speaker (M Appavu) says Panneerselvam continues to be the deputy floor leader. This is injustice and biased, as Panneerselvam has been expelled from the party three months ago," Palaniswami said.

Even the three legislators who supported Panneerselvam have been removed from the AIADMK and the party's general council elected former state minister R B Udayakumar as deputy floor leader, he said.

"Normally, the Chief Minister or leader of the opposition is decided by the respective party MLAs and not the Assembly. The Chief Minister would forfeit his position if a majority of party MLAs withdraw support and the same yardstick applies to the deputy floor leader," Palaniswami argued.

Palaniswami and the MLAs supporting him, skipped the first day of the Assembly session on Monday to participate in the party's foundation day celebrations. Panneerselvam who attended the Assembly had celebrated the day separately with his supporters.

On Tuesday, Palaniswami and his party MLAs were evicted from the Assembly House for causing a commotion over seating arrangement.

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