AIADMK symbol war: Sasikala camp urges freezing 'two-leaf' symbol permanently
New Delhi, Oct 16: The second Election Commission hearing over the AIADMK symbol war remained inconclusive, with the V K Sasikala camp questioning the authenticity of the documents submitted by the rival group and demanding the 'two-leaf' symbol be frozen permanently.
Former law minister Ashwani Kumar, representing Sasikala and her nephew T T V Dhinakaran, argued the majority is on their side. He also disputed the authenticity of the affidavits filed by the other side -- the O Panneerselvam and E K Palaniswami camp.
"Unless the authenticity of the affidavits can be determined by the EC, there is no material before the commission to actually decide the matter of the majority support," he later told reporters. He said the majority support under the party constitution can also be considered on the basis of the support of the primary members not only on the basis of general council members. "At the worst, even if all our arguments fail, even then symbol cannot be granted to one faction and it has to be frozen," he said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and the matter was adjourned for October 23. The Supreme Court has asked the poll panel to decide on the matter by November 10. Senior AIADMK leader and supporter of the OPS-EPS camp, K P Munuswamy, said the Sasikala faction is losing the legal battle and that is why it was demanding to freeze the symbol permanently.
Counsel for OPS-EPS side and former MP Manoj Pandian said, "It is their attempts to delay the hearing process by questioning the authenticity of the affidavits. Despite their attempts to delay, we shall get the symbol," he said after the hearing. During the last hearing on October 6, the OPS-EPS camp, which merged recently, had staked claim over the AIADMK and its 'two-leaf' election symbol before the Election Commission, claiming support of a majority of lawmakers and party cadre.
In an interim order in March this year, the Commission had barred the then rivals-- Palaniswami and Panneerselvam -- from using the party's name or its symbol in the R K Nagar assembly bypoll necessitated due to the demise of sitting lawmaker J Jayalalithaa.
The bypoll, for which the AIADMK had fielded Dhinakaran, was later cancelled due to alleged bribing of voters and is yet to take place. Prior to the merger, the two factions led by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, V K Sasikala had staked claim over the symbol. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Palaniswami was then a Sasikala loyalist. The poll panel had, however, frozen the symbol, pending decision on their pleas.
Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala, who is now in jail in a disproportionate assets case, and announced merger of the two factions. Resolutions ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and Dhinakaran as her deputy were also adopted at the party's general council meeting on September 12.
On September 14, representatives of Dhinakaran had approached the EC urging it to declare as invalid the general council meeting, citing a high court order that said any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.