‘Pressure cooker’ brews more trouble for Dhinkaran

‘Pressure cooker’ brews more trouble for Dhinkaran

The Election Commission of India (ECI), which was against allotting the ‘Pressure Cooker’ to AIADMK rebel T T V Dhinakaran’s party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), has allotted the popular symbols to independent candidates.

These candidates happen to be namesakes of AMMK nominees.

The strange coincidence has triggered a major row, with sections of the public, political observers and politicians suspecting that the AIADMK is behind the move. There is also a feeling that the symbol allotment is to “confuse the voters” since Dhinakaran contested the R K Nagar by-polls using the pressure cooker symbol.

The symbol had an instant connect with voters when Dhinakaran contested the R K Nagar by-polls in December 2017 and won with a huge margin of 40,000 votes.

This time around, the AMMK resorted to every move, including knocking on Supreme Court’s door, seeking the pressure cooker symbol for its nominees, but the ECI did not oblige.

However, on the recommendation of the court, the ECI allotted a common ‘gift box’ symbol to Dhinakaran’s party, which is yet to be registered.

In at least three constituencies – Tiruvarur, Pappireddipatti and Harur – which go to by-polls on April 18, the namesakes of the AMMK candidates have been allotted the pressure cooker symbol.

In Tiruvarur, the AMMK nominee is S Kamaraj; his namesake, B Kamaraj, has been allotted the pressure cooker symbol. In Harur, AMMK candidate Murugan is contesting on the ‘gift box’ sign; the independent who shares his name, Murugan P, has been allotted the pressure cooker. In Pappireddipatti, D K Rajendran is the AMMK nominee, while C Rajendran is contesting using the pressure cooker symbol.

Asked for his reaction, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa said the EC acts according to the various provisions of law. “Unfortunately, this is a quasi-judicial function that we exercise. This is not the forum to discuss this case,” Lavasa told a press conference here.

AMMK spokesperson C R Saraswathi told DH that the EC’s latest action speaks a lot about the autonomy of the poll body.

“The EC categorically denied allotting pressure cooker symbol for us, but now it is giving the same symbol to candidates who share the names of our nominees. Who is the EC trying to cheat? Why is the EC behaving in a partisan manner?” she asked.

Saraswathi said the people are “well aware” of the AMMK symbol and would not get hoodwinked by the pressure cooker symbol.

“People know our symbol is gift box and not pressure cooker. If the government thinks they can defeat us through such tactics, they are mistaken,” she said.