-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
The combined E Palaniswamy-O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK that now rules Tamil Nadu has won on November 23 the two-leaf symbol after months of infighting. The Election Commission of India (ECI), after studying the issue very deeply for months, ruled the flag symbol in favor of the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam camp, saying that the unified AIADMK is the real AIADMK.
What might come as a setback for V Sasikala, who is currently lodged in a Bengaluru prison, the ECI declared that the ‘two-leaves’ party symbol belonged to the E Palaniswamy and O Panneerselvam faction and not the VK Sasikala-TTV Dinakaran camp that had claimed they would get the symbol.’
The verdict was happily welcomed by the EPS-OPS faction.
On November 8, the EC had concluded hearing the AIADMK symbol case. The EC had frozen the party symbol after OPS walked out of the AIADMK. The merged factions of the party had moved the Election Commission in September.
The poll panel also said that VK. Sasikala, now jailed in Bangaluru jail for disproportionate assets, and her nephew Dinakaran who runs the show on her behalf did not have party support.
In fact, initially, two factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala had staked claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had frozen it, pending a decision on their pleas. Sasikala has chosen Palanisamy for CM post as she was denied that privilege due to the disproportionate assets case for which she was sent to jail.
Later, a large group of legislators led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala, who is in jail in a graft case, and announced a merger with Panneerselvam faction for a stable government.
Resolutions are ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and her nephew Dhinakaran as her deputy was also adopted at the party’s general council meeting held 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 would be subject to the outcome in the appeal.
Verdict Reminiscent of 1988 tussle between Jayalalithaa-Janaki
With the EC restoring the “two leaves” symbol for the ruling faction of the AIADMK, the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam faction is now the officially recognized AIADMK.
The entire drama, as it unfolded since the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year in a mysterious circumstances (now the reports suggest that she had died long before, but Sasikala and co deliberately concealed that for some conspiratorial reasons-) is reminiscent of how MG Ramachandran’s widow Janaki Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa sparred to control AIADMK after MGR’s death in 1988. They too, like EPS-OPS and Sasikala, fought over who should use the AIADMK symbol.
The power struggle between Janaki and Jayalalithaa, the party’s propaganda secretary, broke after a little after ten days of MGR’s death. The fight over who should head the party protracted into a months-long struggle before the EC stepped in and froze the symbol, a month before the elections in January 1989. Eventually, Jayalalithaa won the symbol and Janaki left politics.
With the current AIADMK fight, the EC froze the ‘two-leaves’ symbols on 23 March, three months after Jayalalithaa’s death.
By Mid-March of 1988, Jayalalithaa had staked her claim to the party’s symbol claiming support of the majority. Similarly, EPS-OPS, who merged recently, reached EC on 6 October 2017, and staked their claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol claiming support of a majority of lawmakers and party cadre.
EPS-OPS duo claimed that both Sasikala and Dinakaran had been removed from the party and hence cannot claim the symbol. Similarly, Janaki said she had the support of the majority in the party and Tamil Nadu Assembly, and thus, Jayalalithaa had no right to use the official symbol.
In Jayalalithaa’s case, ten days after Janaki lost the elections to her, MGR’s wife decided to “quit politics and not hinder anyone,” thus leaving AIADMK for Jayalalithaa to control.
With EPS-OPS and Sasikala, it remains to be seen who finally gets the last word on the matter. As per CNN-News18, the Sasikala faction might move the Madras High Court to challenge the EC verdict.
Three months after the merger of the rival AIADMK factions led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and his now deputy O Panneerselvam, all is not well within the unified AIADMK. A hint has been dropped by senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP, V Maithreyan, in a social media post. “It has been three months since the EPS-OPS faction merged. Months have gone, but have the hearts synced,” Maithreyan wrote in a Facebook post. Maithreyan was the first AIADMK leader to join Panneerselvam’s rebellion against then party general secretary VK Sasikala on February 7, days after she tried to replace him as chief minister.
Tamil Nadu MP V Maithreyan pointed out that AIADMK is perhaps the only party to have its symbol frozen and de-frozen twice in the country’s political history.
When asked what prompted him to write such a post, Maithreyan declined to comment, saying he has nothing more to say about it. His post was his second hint at the discontent in the ruling AIADMK in this month. On November 6, he complained that he had been ignored in the relief works in the rain-hit areas.
When asked about Maithreyan remark, senior AIADMK leader and minister, D Jayakumar, said he was against discussing the party’s internal issues in public. He also denied any issues within the party.
Maithreyan, whose political roots can be traced to the RSS and BJP before joining the AIADMK, was supposed to have played a major role in the merger in which PM Narendra Modi had also reportedly shown keen interest.
The E Palaniswamy-O Panneerselvam faction has won the ongoing fight with the VK Sasikala camp over the united AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol the Election Commission of India has ruled in favor of the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam camp.
With the Election Commission restoring the “two leaves” symbol for the ruling faction of the AIADMK, the Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam faction is now the officially recognized AIADMK
The Tamil Nadu chief minister expressed happiness over the verdict and thanked the party cadres for their constant support. Palaniswamy also denied reports that his faction won the symbol due to its proximity to the BJP. Eventually, Jayalalithaa won the symbol and Janaki left politics. It is wrong. We had facts on our side, and the majority of MLAs, MPs and party workers were with us. All this was taken into consideration: TN CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami on allegations that judgment was awarded in their favor due to proximity to BJP.
Reports say that the defeated Sasikala will move the Madras High Court against the verdict. She has a lot of money to do anything.
On 8 November, the poll panel had concluded hearing the symbol case and reserved the order. At the seventh hearing, the rival Palaniswamy-Panneerselvam and the Sasikala Natarajan factions concluded their arguments.
Initially, two factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala had staked claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had originally frozen the symbol on 23 March.
Later, a large group of legislators led by Palaniswamy revolted against Sasikala, who is lodged in a Bengaluru jail in connection with a corruption case, and announced a merger with Panneerselvam faction.
Resolutions are ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and her nephew Dinakaran as her deputy was also adopted at the party’s general council meeting held on 12 September.
On 14 September, representatives of Dinakaran 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 would be subject to the outcome in the appeal.
EC has given judgment in favor of EPS and OPS, and with this judgment now there is only one AIADMK without any factions. Majority of party workers supported us: Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami on two leaves symbol.
Indian Election Commission has cleared the deck for the ruling AIADMK now to focus on governance of the state aiming at rooting out corruption invented by the DMK misrule and then followed up by the AIADMK governments of both MGR and Jayalalithaa that let notorious people like Sasikala et al to loot the resources of the state by misusing power of the CM.
As the factions are busy targeting each other, the ruling faction is trying to stay in power somehow, while the administration was out of gear in the state. Corruption has reached the worst possible level as for everything people must bribe the officials and police and without bring or showing money to them, nothing gets done in Tamil Nadu.
Unfortunately, Tamil Nadu after the K, Kamaraj has become one of the most corrupt states, and there seems to no chance to see the state behave properly and morally sound. The Tamil state and government are insensitive to people’s requirements and concerns. Even MGR could not do anything to make the state corruption free. Obviously, Jayalalithaa, controlled by Sasikala and co with their hidden agendas could not do anything that would make the state honest.
One is not sure if the new governor is indeed serious or he is just doing some gimmicks for news by talking to district officials, would try to make the state corruption free and make the officials and police work honestly for the sake of a shining Tamil Nadu.
As it stands, the officials and police, others who get paid for service to people by the state operate like parts of a vast network of mafias.