Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

EC freezes 'two leaves' for R.K. Nagar bypoll

MPs belonging to the Sasikala faction leaving the Election Commission on Wednesday.

MPs belonging to the Sasikala faction leaving the Election Commission on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

Recognises split in party, bars use of ‘AIADMK’ till final order

The Election Commission on Wednesday froze the AIADMK’s “Two Leaves” symbol, prohibiting its use in the coming R.K. Nagar byelection in Chennai.

The decision came after the EC heard the rival factions of O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala, who had staked their claim to the symbol. Pending a final resolution of the dispute, the factions have also been barred from using the party’s name in the bypoll.

Observing that a deeper examination of the issue was required and that the more than 20,000 pages of evidence would have to be examined, the EC, in its interim order, said any hasty decision during the nomination process for the byelection might lead to an erroneous conclusion, preju- dicially impacting the rights of either or both the sides.

The EC, which recognised that there was a split in the party, said pending the final settlement of the dispute, neither group was permitted to use the name ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.’ Also, they cannot use the party symbol for the bypoll on April 12.

“Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ... and both the groups shall also be allotted different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purpose of the byelection,” said the order.

‘New names today’

Accordingly, the EC directed both factions to furnish names of their groups by 10 a.m. on Thursday.

They have also been instructed to suggest three options each for possible election symbols.

The factions have been allowed a final opportunity of adducing all other documents and affidavits by April 17 for the final settlement of the dispute.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Sasikala faction contended that there was no split in the party, and it was only a matter of internal dissent. “However, the Commission is satisfied, based on documents filed and oral submissions made by the learned counsels of both the parties, that there are two rival groups in the party, led by E. Madhusudhanan and V.K. Sasikala,” said the EC order.

Although the Panneerselvam camp also challenged the appointment of Sasikala as the party’s interim general secretary, the EC restricted the proceedings to the allotment of the symbol.

 

Describing the ruling as “unexpected,” T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the faction led by Sasikala, said late on Wednesday that they would either move the Madras High Court or the Supreme Court to challenge it.

The faction, represented by lawyers C.S. Vaidyanathan and Guru Krishna Kumar, contended that Sasikala had been convicted in a disproportionate assets case and, therefore, she could not contest elections. Since her appointment had been disputed, they argued, she should not be allowed to nominate her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran as the party candidate.

Notably, the Commission has not recognised Mr. Dinakaran as the party office bearer, as his name is not there in list submitted to the electoral body.

‘Sasikala not eligible’

“A person calls herself the general secretary. She is not eligible to contest, she is not eligible to be an election agent and she is not even eligible to be a voter. How can she give Form ‘B’ [authorisation for nomination of a candidate] to contest on behalf of the party? This was our argument before the Commission. When she is not eligible to allot the symbol, we are the original owners…,” AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan of the Panneerselvam faction had said after the hearing concluded.

 

On behalf the Sasikala camp, lawyers Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily, Mohan Parasaran and Aryama Sundaram, relied upon the test of majority as upheld by the Supreme Court in case of a split in the party as per Para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.

The Election Commission had taken recourse to the same test to decide the Samajwadi Party symbol dispute in favour of Akhilesh Yadav.

“We opposed the very maintainability of the petition. We pointed out that it was not even a case where they had a majority of legislators [supporting them]. The majority of legislators, the Chief Minister, the Cabinet, parliamentarians and the general counsel were with us. As there was no case for claim of majority, they would not have the right at all to claim for the allotment of the symbol to them. So, there is no question of stopping us from using the symbol,” said Mr. Sundaram.

Excerpts from the Election Commission order

(a) Neither of the two groups led by the petitioners (Shri E. Madhusudhanan, Shri O Panneerselvam and Shri S. Semmalai) and the respondents (Smt. V.K. Sasikala and Shri TTV Dhinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ simplicitor;

(b) Neither of the aforesaid two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol ‘Two Leaves’, reserved for ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’;

(c) Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’; and

(d) Both the groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purposes of the current bye-election

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 11:36:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmks-two-leaves-symbol-frozen/article17588821.ece

Next Story