CHENNAI: The two factions of Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK have been asked to submit new symbols and names after the Election Commission said neither can use the party’s name or “two leaves” symbol in a key by-election for J Jayalalithaa’s constituency.
The factions, led by VK Sasikala and rebel O Panneerselvam, are both fighting for the RK Nagar seat that fell vacant after the death of Jayalalithaa in December. The by-polls will be held on April 12.
Mr Panneerselvam paid tribute at the beachside memorial of the former Chief Minister in Chennai this morning.
Later, his candidate E Madhusudanan and the Sasikala camp’s TTV Dinakaran will both file documents to contest the RK Nagar by-poll. Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar, who claims to be the true successor of her political legacy, also plans to contest as an independent candidate.
TTV Dinakaran, the AIADMK Deputy General Secretary, says he will win the election and get the poll symbol back.
Mr Panneerselvam, who took over as Chief Minister after Jayalalithaa’s death but was forced to quit, called the Election Commission’s decision “shocking and disappointing” despite “strong evidence”.
The commission held a six-hour long marathon hearing on Wednesday, after which it said it did not want to rush to a conclusion that might be “erroneous”.
“No one would grudge the fact that it is almost humanly impossible to study all the aforesaid records running into more than 20,000 pages (submitted just a day earlier),” the commission said, adding that it also had to analyse the arguments presented by the two sides to “come to a definite finding or conclusion”.
Winning the RK Nagar is an important goal for the camp led by VK Sasikala, who is serving a four-year jail term for corruption. Before she went to a Bengaluru jail, Sasikala appointed nephew TTV Dinakaran as the party’s deputy chief and her proxy, E Palaniswamy, as chief minister.
She continues to be the party chief as there is no provision to bar a convict from heading a political party. The law only restricts the convict from contesting elections within six years after completing the jail term.