The Election Commission of India today concluded hearing both factions of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu -- one led by jailed interim party supremo VK Sasikala and another by party rebel and former CM O Panneerselvam -- before taking a final call on their pleas for party’s poll symbol ‘twin leaf’.
Both the factions want to contest the April 12 RK Nagar assembly bypoll on the AIADMK symbol and have fielded their respective candidates. March 23 is the last date of filing nominations for the byelection.
The issue of V.K. Sasikala's appointment as the interim general secretary of the party was not included in the hearing and the primary issue was the allotment of the symbol to either of the groups.
With the hearing having concluded, it is expected that the Commission's decision on the matter may come by late evening or on Thursday, the last day of the nomination of candidates for the R.K. Nagar by-election in Chennai.
The Panneerselvam faction represented by lawyers C.S. Vaidyanathan and Guru Krishna Kumar contended that Sasikala was convicted in a disproportionate assets case and, therefore, she could not contest or nominate anyone for the bypoll. They also argued that Sasikala be refrained from nominating her nephew TTV Dinakaran as the candidate. Notably, the Commission has not recognised Dinakaran as the party office bearer.
The Sasikala faction, on the other hand, was represented by four top lawyers, Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily, Mohan Parasaran and Aryama Sundaram. They contended that since Saikala had the majority of the legislative representatives of the party, the claim was rightfully hers.
In the ongoing tug of war for the party symbol, the Panneerselvam camp had last week submitted a petition to the poll body requesting allotment of the ‘twin-leaf’ symbol to it.
On the other hand, the Sasikala camp led by party leader and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai had submitted a memorandum to the poll panel requesting ‘not to entertain’ the dissenting cadres, who have staked claim to the AIADMK symbol.
The Commission had initially asked supporting documents from the Panneerselvam camp before March 20. The Sasikala camp was asked to file its response also by March 20. But it sought time till March 22.
RK Nagar assembly constituency will go to polls on April 12.