Election Commission on Wednesday announced the freezing of AIADMK’s two leaves symbol with the two factions - one led by VK Sasikala and the other by O Panneerselvam - staking claim to it.
The candidates will now have to contest on any of the unreserved symbols. Election Commission said that both groups are allowed a further and final opportunity of adducing documents and affidavits latest by April 17.
“Commission is not in a position to give any final decision at the present juncture in the short time available mentioned above. Consequently, the Commission is left with no other option in these compelling circumstances but to make an interim order which may be fair to both the contending groups,” the ECI said, ruling that neither of the AIADMK factions can use the symbol or the name of the party.
Both the camps had hired legal heavyweights like former Law Ministers M Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid, former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, senior advocates C S Vaidyanathan, G Krishnakumar and B Srinivasan.
At the outset, the Commission had asked the two sides to restrict their arguments on the symbol issue alone and not to bring in the appointment of Sasikala as the interim general secretary.
The Panneerselvam camp claimed that since Sasikala is only an interim general secretary, she cannot allot party symbol of ‘two leaves’ to any candidate contesting the R K Nagar assembly bypoll which was necessitated by the demise of J Jayalalithaa.
It claimed that only the party’s presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan can allot the symbol. Since her appointment as interim general secretary was bad in law, she has no rights to allot the symbol.
It said that Sasikala’s election was violative of the party constitution as she was chosen by the general council of the party and not the primary members.
The Sasikala camp maintained that after the demise of M G Ramachandran, late J Jayalalithaa too was appointed an interim general secretary to run the party affairs.
It also claimed that Panneerselvam and Madhusudhanan had earlier supported Sasikala’s elevation as interim general secretary and now they were opposing the same before the Commission.
Sasikala’s counsels said she enjoys the support of majority of party delegates, MPs and MLAs and hence has a right over the symbol.
They said since the majority was with her, there was no vertical split in the party. The OPS camp has announced E Madhusudhanan’s name as its candidate for the by-poll in R K Nagar.
T T V Dinakaran, AIADMK Deputy General Secretary and nephew of Sasikala, is the candidate of the other camp.
Inputs from PTI