The election commission allotted new names and symbols to two warring factions of Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK on Thursday for the bypoll in prestigious RK Nagar assembly constituency of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The Commission heard the O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala factions staking claim for the “Two Leaves” symbol on Wednesday and pending a final resolution of the dispute, they were also barred from using the party’s name in the bypoll.
TTV Dinakaran belonging to the VK Sasikala camp and E Madhusudhanan from the O Panneerselvam camp – have done is to choose a party name that shows their linkage to the AIADMK. So RK Nagar will see a contest between AIADMK Amma (Sasikala camp) and AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (OPS camp).
Throw MGR Amma Deepa Peravai – the outfit started by Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa – into the mix and you realise Amma’s stamp is all over this alphabet soup battle for her constituency.
Meanwhile, E Madhusudhanan, a senior AIADMK leader from the O Panneerselvam camp, filed his nomination on Thursday from the RK Nagar constituency for the April 12 bypoll.
“People of this constituency desire the rule of O Panneerselvam in Tamil Nadu. He has been working for their welfare… my victory prospects in this election are bright,” Madhusudhanan said in Chennai after filing his nomination.
“We are firm in our objective — it is to fight against family rule in the AIADMK,” he said.
The bypoll assumes significance, considering it was the seat of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa till her death in December 2016. This would make it an important perception marker in the battle for her legacy.
This would also be the first time a section of the public would be able to have its say in the battle between the OPS and Sasikala factions.
The leaders of the two sides said that they will make all efforts to retrieve it.
Expressing shock over the poll panel’s decision, AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran said he did not expect such an outcome.
Dinakaran, however, exuded confidence that he will win the RK Nagar bypoll and get the poll symbol back.
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam in a statement said it was “shocking and disappointing” that his party didn’t get the symbol despite submitting “strong evidence” to the EC and that they would get it back “at any cost”.