Chennai: Dealing a major blow to the official faction of the ruling AIADMK ahead of a crucial bypoll, the Election Commission of India froze the party symbol and barred both factions from using the party name, following contesting claim from the rivals.
"Neither of the two groups led by the petitioners (E Madhusudhanan, O Panneerselvam and S Semmalai) and the respondents (VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ and the Two Leaves symbol," the commission said in its interim ordered delivered late on Wednesday.
It cited the voluminous documents that it has to pore through (running to over 20,000 pages), and limited time at its disposal (Thursday is the last day for nomination for the by-poll to RK Nagar Assembly constituency) for the decision in the interim, "taken purely for the purposes of the current bye-election".
While the decision impacts both sides, it is the official faction headed by deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran that would be hurt more by the EC's decision.
Dhinakaran, who made a re-entry into State politics on the day his aunt, general secretary VK Sasikala went to jail, is the candidate at RK Nagar, the seat that fell vacant after the death of late Chief Minister and party leader J Jayalalithaa. Facing a rebellion within and a spirited DMK buoyed by the ruling party's internal strife, Dhinakaran has a storm to weather-now without the help of that familiar two-leaves symbol or even the name of the party, two of the most important political assets.
Now, by 10 am on Thursday, both him and the rebels headed by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will have to choose a name for their groups, "showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam," Tue commission said in its order.
For RK Nagar by-poll, both groups will be allotted symbols that they choose from the list of free symbols notified by the EC for the purposes of the current bye-election to RK Nagar constituency. "They may indicate the names of three free symbols, in the order of their preference, anyone of which may be allotted to their candidates by the Commission."
This, too, should be intimated by 10 am, it added.
Further, the both groups are allowed a final opportunity of adducing all such documents and affidavits on which they propose to rely on their respective claims, latest by April 17, added the commission.
This is after nearly three decades that the AIADMK symbol is being frozen. Following the death of late Chief Minister and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran in December 1987, the EC had taken a similar decision in 1988. In 1989 Assembly elections, the AIADMK was split into two factions- one led by J Jayalalithaa and another led by Janaki Ramachandran, wife of MGR.