EC recognises EPS-OPS faction as real AIADMK

EC recognises EPS-OPS faction as real AIADMK

The Election Commission on Thursday allotted the two-leaves symbol of the AIADMK to the faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.

The poll panel recognised the faction led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam as the real AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam), rejecting the claim of jailed party leader V K Sasikala and her nephew, T T V Dinakaran.

The poll panel's order came as a setback for the Sasikala-Dinakaran faction and a boost for the AIADMK, led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, ahead of the byelection to the R K Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai. The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the poll body to conduct the election by December 31.

The EC stated that it had recognised the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction as the real AIADMK and granted it the symbol as it had been found to be enjoying the support of a majority of members, both in the organisational and legislature wings of the party.

The poll panel noted that the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK could prove it had the support of the party's 34 members in the Lok Sabha, eight in the Rajya Sabha, 111 in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and four in the Puducherry Assembly. The Sasikala-Dinakaran faction, on the other hand, could prove the support of only three members each in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and 20 MLAs in Tamil Nadu, including the 18 MLAs, who had already been disqualified.

The EC also noted that at least 1,741 members of the AIADMK's general council submitted support to the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction, while the Sasikala-Dinakaran team could submit defect-free affidavits of support from only 145 members of the apex body of the party.

In the wake of the infighting and split within the AIADMK in the months following the demise of party supremo and the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalaithaa, on December 5, 2016, the EC had on March 22 barred both the factions - one led by Sashikala-Dinakaran and another by Panneerselvam and party veteran E Madhushudhanan - from using the two-leaves symbol.

Palaniswami was with Sasikala and Dinakaran then and replaced Panneerselvam as the chief minister after Sasikala's ascent to the helm of the party. The factions led by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, however, united in August and ousted Sasikala and Dhinakaran from the party as they claimed that the  group led by them was the real AIADMK.

The poll panel resumed the hearing on October 6 and concluded it on November 8.

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