Chennai: Ruling AIADMK's nominee P Dhanapal was on Wednesday unanimously elected as Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the first Dalit to be elected to the post in 50 years. Pro-Tem Speaker C K Tamizharasan announced that Dhanapal was unanimously elected as he was the only candidate to have filed nomination for the election caused by the surprise resignation of D Jayakumar as Speaker recently.
Dhanapal was led to the chair by Leader of the House and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam and Deputy Leader of DMDK Legislature Party Panruti S Ramachandran, who did the honours in the absence of Leader of the Opposition and his party founder leader Vijaykant. Felicitating Dhanapal, who had resigned as Deputy Speaker to file his nomination, both opposition DMDK and DMK assured their support to him and urged for equal opportunities for the opposition to speak in the assembly.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi was among the notable absentees while members of AIADMK, which has a massive majority of 151 MLAs in the 234-member House, was present in full strength led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.