The AIADMK, which has decided to put up its candidate in the Erode (East) by-election, is hopeful of overcoming any hurdle to get its symbol of ‘two leaves’, according to a cross-section of party leaders.
Pointing out that interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami will sign on the nomination forms in his capacity in the organisation, D. Jayakumar, former Minster, in an interaction with The Hindu on Friday, expressed the hope that the symbol would eventually be assigned to his party.
“There is no stay on the operation of the order of the Division Bench of the Madras High Court of September 2,” the former Minister said, asserting that the predominant sections of the cadre, be they among MLAs or members of the general council and the party executive, are behind Mr. Palaniswami.
The Division Bench had allowed appeals challenging the verdict of a single judge of the Madras High Court, who had nullified the party’s July 11 general council meeting, in which Mr. Palaniswami was elected the interim general secretary and former coordinator, O. Panneerselvam was expelled from the party. Mr. Panneerselvam has been claiming that he remains the coordinator and his term will come to an end only in December 2026.
‘No vertical split in party’
Citing a few more points in favour of Mr. Palaniswami, former legislator and a member of the legal wing I.S. Inbadurai contends that there has been no vertical split in the party. If the Panneerselvam camp takes a stand contrary to this position, it has to substantiate its claim by proving its strength among legislators, parliamentarians and members of the general council and the executive.
“The possession of the party headquarters and the access to the official email ID lie with our camp,” Mr Inbadurai says, viewing the act of the Election Commission (EC), hosting on its website, the audited accounts of the AIADMK, as an endorsement of the stand of the Palaniswami camp.
When it was pointed out that the EC had invited both Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami as coordinator and co-coordinator for its meeting on the remote electronic voting machine prototype for migrant voters, Mr. Inbadurai argues that the EC should not have extended the invitation to Mr. Panneerselvam, as “the postal address of the party headquarters [to which the communication was sent] is ours.”
(While the Palaniswami camp did not attend the meeting on Monday, the Panneerselvam group sent its nominees).
Names of probable candidates doing the rounds
As for probable candidates, a senior leader, hailing from the western belt, says the names of former legislator K.S. Thennarasu, who was elected from the constituency in 2016, and former Public Works Minister K.V. Ramalingam, who represented Erode (West) twice, are doing the rounds.
He concurs with the assessment that notwithstanding the result of the by-election, the stock of the interim general secretary will go up politically by fielding a nominee. “He will also demonstrate to the rest of the world that it is he who represents the principal Opposition party...,” the senior leader says.
Meanwhile, sources in the camp of the deposed coordinator are of the view that they are likely to put up their candidate, regardless of the BJP’s decision. “We do not want to be seen as those running away from the fray,” they say. However, the group will finalise its stand at a meeting of the district secretaries and the headquarters’ office-bearers, to be held in Chennai on Monday, January 23.