Chennai, November 23 (The Hindu): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said on Thursday that the unified AIADMK had received the ‘two leaves’ symbol from the Election Commission of India. Speaking to media persons in Chennai, Mr. Palaniswami said that the EC has given a “good decision.”
Following the announcement, celebrations broke out in the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah, Chennai.
The power struggle within the party broke out soon after the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 last year, following a prolonged illness.
The Election Commission froze the AIADMK symbol on March 22, disallowing its use in the R.K. Nagar byelection in Chennai.
The decision came after the EC heard the rival factions of O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala, who staked their claim to the party symbol.
The rival factions were told to furnish affidavits in their support by April 15, which was extended to June 16 on their request.
Owing to rampant abuse of money power to influence voters, the R.K. Nagar byepoll was cancelled. However, the symbol remained frozen as the Commission had already recognised a split in the party and the dispute was yet to be decided.
In view of the Madras High Court order dated September 15, directing the Commission to decide the issue by October 31, the electoral body issued fresh notices to the parties to the dispute for resumption of proceedings.
The notices to E. Madhusudhanan (who then represented the Edappadi K. Palaniswami group), O. Panneerselvam, V.K. Sasikala and T.T.V. Dhinakaran, also informed them that they could file any fresh submissions by September 29.
In the meantime, the OPS and EPS factions arrived at an understanding, ousted Sasikala and Dhinakaran and declared their merger. The decision was communicated to the Commission.
Dhinakaran sought more time for submitting evidence of the claim to the party symbol, which the EC denied.
The Commission resumed the hearing on the issue on October 6, which concluded on November 8 and the order was reserved. However, the EC could not meet the November 10-deadline set by the Supreme Court for deciding the dispute.
During the hearings, the Sasikala – Dhinakaran faction challenged the genuineness of many fresh affidavits filed by the OPS-EPS combine, seeking permission to cross-examine the affiants.
It accused the rivals of violating the party’s constitution rules and also submitted that the party symbol should rather remain frozen.
The OPS-EPS combine said they enjoyed majority in the party’s legislative and organisational wings, even when the disputed affidavits were not taken on record. It accused the other group of unnecessarily dragging the proceedings.