Editorial

A symbolic victory — On the Two Leaves to EPS-OPS camp

What brings people together is not always enough to keep them together. The struggle for the Two Leaves election symbol may have encouraged the two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to come together, but the allocation of the symbol by the Election Commission is not likely to make the prospects of their staying together any greater. While the O. Panneerselvam group formed a separate faction as a protest against the domineering influence of the Sasikala family in the party, the Edappadi K. Palaniswami group distanced itself from the Sasikala family as a survival tactic to seek greater political legitimacy. Both camps have retained their separate identities after the merger. Therefore, the allocation of the symbol risks accentuating the internal struggle for posts and positions within the party. While another split in the near future is unlikely, the competing claims for power and influence by the two factions could put the party under renewed stress. But what the allocation of the symbol does for the ruling combine is to give it an advantage over the Sasikala faction, represented by T.T.V. Dhinakaran, in the R.K. Nagar by-election. With the help of Two Leaves, the camp of ‘EPS and OPS’ might be able to beat back the challenge posed by Mr. Dhinakaran, who has already declared his intention to contest the election for the seat.

The EC was faced with a straightforward issue in deciding the symbol case. The merged factions commanded the support of a majority of the members of Parliament and State legislature and the organisational wings. True, even at the time the case first came up before the EC, the EPS faction, which at that time had the benefaction of the Sasikala family, enjoyed the support of a majority of the party’s members. But with the R.K. Nagar by-election in sight (it was subsequently deferred after instances of voter bribery came to light), the EC had taken the safest option of freezing the symbol and the name of the party. With the symbol case out of the way, the ruling AIADMK combine can once again concentrate on fighting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, its long-time rival. Unlike what they did in the battle with Mr. Dhinakaran, Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam cannot hope to project the malevolence of Sasikala as an issue for fearmongering in the contest with the DMK. The R.K. Nagar by-election will also be the first electoral test for the State government, which needs to erase the popular impression that it is hurtling directionless without a pilot. A victory for the EPS-OPS grouping could go a long way in establishing the political legitimacy of a government that is still running on the mandate given to Jayalalithaa. Equally, an adverse result in this by-election could undermine the government, bringing it under even greater pressure from inside as well as outside.


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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 4:18:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/a-symbolic-victory/article20798338.ece

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