Thursday’s developments mean status quo is maintained in the southern state where E Palaniswami’s government took charge in February 2017 with the help of Dhinakaran, who was later ostracised by the ruling AIADMK.
But later that year, the 18 MLAs sparked a potential crisis in Tamil Nadu, which saw a prolonged spell of political uncertainty after the December 2016 death of CM J Jayalalithaa.
The disgruntled group moved to desert Palaniswami amid a bitter power struggle between the AIADMK’s ruling faction and Dhinakaran, who is the nephew of Jayalalithaa aide Sasikala.
Had the court quashed the speaker’s order, it could have thrown fresh challenges at the Palaniswami government and bolstered Dhinakaran’s camp.
“The longevity of the anti-people government now gets extended by a couple of months. It is not at all a setback to us. We got 50 per cent victory,” Dhinakaran said, adding all 18 MLAs were still backing him.
Although the ruling AIADMK appears confident about its majority, the opposition DMK says the Palaniswami government lacks the numbers because of the disqualification of the rebel MLAs.
Of the 235 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, one seat is reserved for a nominated member. The AIADMK has 116 members, DMK 89, Congress eight and the IUML one. There is an independent member in the House even as the 18 AIADMK MLAs stand disqualified.
Altogether 19 legislators had submitted a letter to the governor, withdrawing support to the CM. Later, one of them switched over to the Palaniswami camp.
Hours before Thursday's court developments, Tamil Nadu Advocate General Vijay Narayanan met Palaniswami. On the other hand, the disqualified lawmakers met Dhinakaran.