Two Leaves in Edappadi K Palaniswami pocket, it’s party time

The ruling faction can contest RK Nagar, civic polls on the iconic symbol; TTV may have to fight bypoll as an independent candidate.

Published: 24th November 2017 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2017 08:54 AM   |  A+A-

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami celebrates with AIADMK cadre after the Election Commission allotted the Two Leaves symbol to his faction, at the party office in Chennai on Thursday | D sampathkumar

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The much-awaited final order of the Election Commission of India on the Two Leaves symbol dispute and the AIADMK name went in favour of the ruling faction led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. Thursday’s order was a shot in arm for the ruling group, though some prickly issues need to be settled quickly.

The order withdrew the freeze it imposed on March 22 on the Two Leaves symbol and the interim names allocated to the factions led by O Panneerselvam and TTV Dhinakaran pending adjudication.

The immediate advantage for the ruling faction is it can now face the ensuing by-election to RK Nagar and the local body elections on the Two Leaves symbol. That is a big plus, as the order grants legitimacy to the leadership of the EPS-OPS combine and lets them galvanise the cadre under the powerful symbol, priming it for the elections.

As for rebel leader Dhinakaran, he can no longer call his group AIADMK (Amma), the interim name the EC had allotted. If he really intends to jump into the RK Nagar poll fray as he indicated on Thursday, he will have to float a new political party. But since registration of a party takes time, he may have to contest the bypoll as an independent.

With jailed and purged leader

V K Sasikala as also Dhinakaran and their followers having no say in the AIADMK hereafter, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam could try to revamp the party apparatus by replacing those suspected as ‘sleeper cells’, while wooing some of the dissident MLAs.

Minister for Cooperation, K Sellur Raju, in a television debate, asserted that those who have gone to the other faction would return to alma mater very soon following the EC order. If the revamp happens, it could help reduce dissidence within the party.

On the other hand, the EC order pegged the ruling faction’s strength as 111 MLAs as of now. That gave ammunition for Dhinakaran to go ballistic: “Now, the truth has come from the horse’s mouth — EC itself has declared that the EPS government has no majority in the Assembly. We will bring this to the notice of Governor Banwarilal Purohit for further action.”

According to analyst Tharasu Shyam, “Though there is an argument that simple majority in the 234-member TN Assembly has come down to 108 after the disqualification of 18 MLAs and the ruling faction is in a comfortable position with 111 MLAs, such comfort is subject to the verdict of Madras High Court.

If the court strikes down the disqualification of 18 MLAs, the ruling faction would have to prove its majority. Unless some of the MLAs shift their loyalties, the ruling faction would face problems.”

Party headquarters with ruling faction
Apart from the symbol and the party name, the ruling AIADMK faction got the right to use the party headquarters in Chennai from the EC, which went by headcount while adjudicating the
intra-party dispute

42 MPs, 111 MLAs in TN on CM-led team
The EC pointed out that the ruling faction enjoyed the support of 42 MPs, 111 MLAs in TN and 4 MLAs in Puducherry, while the Sasikala-led group and others have support of six MPs & 20 MLAs (including the 18 disqualified MLAs)

EC weighed party developments
Imprisonment of Sasikala, merger of factions led by OPS and EPS, cancellation of appointment of Sasikala as general secretary and appointment of OPS and EPS as party coordinator and joint coordinator


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