E Palaniswamy and O Panneerselvam reach EC to stake claim over AIADMK's 'two leaves' symbol

New Delhi: The O Panneerselvam and the E Palaniswamy camps, which merged recently, staked claim over the AIADMK and its 'two leaves' election symbol before the Election Commission on Friday, claiming support of a majority of lawmakers and party cadre.

The VK Sasikala camp, which too has approached the EC seeking control over the party, will present its case before the poll panel on 13 October.

The EPS-OPS camp told the Election Commission at a hearing, which lasted two hours, that Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, who was appointed deputy general secretary of the AIADMK by her, have been removed from the party and cannot stake claim over it or the 'two leaves' election symbol.

The EPS-OPS camp's counsel and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the Commission that Dhinakaran was not even a member of the party the day chief minister J Jayalalithaa passed away on 5 December last year.

In an interim order in March this year, the Commission had barred the then rivals — Palaniswami and Panneerselvam — from using the party's name or its election symbol in the RK Nagar assembly bypoll necessitated due to demise of Jayalalithaa.

The bypoll, for which the AIADMK had fielded Dhinakaran, was later cancelled due to alleged bribing of voters and is yet to take place.

"All the members of the AIADMK have buried the hatchet and now only Dhinakaran, who claims to have only 18 disqualified MLAs, is on the other side," Rohatgi told reporters after the hearing.

File images of O Panneerselvam and E Palaniswamy. PTI

File images of O Panneerselvam and E Palaniswamy. PTI

Dhinakaran had moved the EC, the Madras high court, and today the Supreme Court seeking more time to file fresh affidavits. But his pleas were rejected by all of them.

The Supreme Court today directed the Election Commission to decide by 10 November the claim of rival factions over the AIADMK's election symbol and allowed it to proceed with the scheduled hearing in the case.

One of Dhinakaran's counsel N Raja Senthoor Pandian told reporters that the Sasikala camp demanded cross-examination of those who had filed fresh affidavits in support of the EPS-OPS camp.

He said the EC accepted to hear the arguments of the Sasikala camp on 13 October. He said the cross-examination would be the main issue the Commission would hear next Friday.

The counsel for Sasikala countered the arguments of the rival camp on her elevation and that of Dhinakaran in the party after Jayalalithaa's death, reminding the Commission of its 22 March order which said that the issue of election symbol alone would be decided and that it would not go into any other issue.

Prior to the merger, the two faction led by Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswamy was then a Sasikala loyalist.

The poll panel had, however, frozen the symbol, pending decision on their pleas.

Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswamy revolted against Sasikala, who is in jail in a disproportionate assets case, and announced merger of the two factions.

Resolutions ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and Dhinakaran as her deputy were also adopted at the party's general council meeting on 12 September.

On 14 September, representatives of Dhinakaran had approached the EC urging it to declare as invalid the general council meeting, citing a high court order that said any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.

Updated Date: Oct 07, 2017 10:03 AM

Also See