Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal today disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to "removed" party leader TTV Dhinakaran. The action against the 18 MLAs, who had revolted against Chief Minister K Palaniswami last month, was taken under anti-defection and disqualification rules of 1986 formed in accordance with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, said a statement from Assembly Secretary K Bhoopathy.

The MLAs who have been disqualified with effect from today are Thangatamilselvan, R Murugan, Mariappan Kennedy, K Kathirkamu, C Jayanthi Padmanabhan, P Palaniappan, V Senthil Balaji, S Muthiah, P Vetrivel, NG Parthiban, M Kothandapani, TA Elumalai, M Rengasamy, R Thangadurai, R Balasubramani, SG Subramanian, R Sundarraj and K Uma Maheswari.

The said MLAs, besides another, had on August 22 met the Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar and conveyed that they had lost confidence in Palaniswami, who is facing a challenge from Dhinakaran.One of the dissident MLAs, SKT Jakkaiyan, had later switched camps to support Palaniswami. These MLAs had since been demanding the removal of Chief Minister. The August 22 meeting had come a day after the formal merger of the two factions led by Palaniswami and then rebel leader and now Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. Earlier, Chief Government Whip S Rajendran had urged the Speaker to disqualify the said MLAs for "anti-party activities" following their revolt against the Chief Minister.

Though the Speaker had issued notices to all the dissident MLAs seeking their individual presence, they had, however, not turned up. A resolution adopted at a meeting chaired by Palaniswami on August 28 had said Dhinakaran was "removed" from the post of Deputy General Secretary.

Opposition parties have since been insisting the Governor direct a floor test for the Palaniswami government for proving its majority in the Assembly. In the 234-member House, AIADMK has a strength of 134 MLAs. The RK Nagar seat fell vacant last year following the death of then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Opposition has a strength of 98 including DMK's 89. Congress 8 and IUML one. 

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