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EPS-OPS Faction Wins Back AIADMK's 'Two Leaves' Symbol, Dinakaran Says Poll Panel Not Neutral

AIADMK symbol. Image for representation only. (Reuters)

AIADMK symbol. Image for representation only. (Reuters)

On March 22, the EC had issued an order to “freeze” the symbol that has been associated with the Tamil Nadu party ever since it was founded by late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

Chennai: After months of infighting, the EPS-OPS faction of the AIADMK won back the party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol on Thursday, along with an approval from the Election Commission.

The EC said the EPS-OPS group "enjoys the support of majority of members, both in the organisational and legislature wings of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam".

The order of the Commission is a setback to deposed party leader V K Sasikala, who is currently serving a four-year sentence in a Bengaluru jail in a disproportionate assets case, and her nephew and sidelined deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran.

The EC said the "said group led by E Madhusudhanan and others is hereby recognised...as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is a recognised state party in the state of Tamil Nadu and in the Union territory of Puducherry, for whom the symbol 'two leaves' is reserved in the said state and Union territory."

In Chennai, Palaniswami described the development as the happiest day for the party. Celebrations broke out at the party headquarters with AIADMK workers bursting crackers and distributing sweets.

Dinkaran lashed out at the election commission for its decision and said it shows that the “poll panel is not neutral”.

“We will go to the Supreme Court regarding this verdict. We have already told about the discrepancies and faults in the affidavit. Around 10 of our supporters also went to the Election Commission and were present during every hearing. The EC said it would update them with the case but today they denied everything. This is enough to prove they (election commission) have never been just. The entire country knows this.”

Former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for the EPS OPS faction, said it was an open and shut case and the decision could not have been anything else.

“A large number of MLAs and MPs were with EPS and OPS. These are elected representatives. The general council members also filed affidavits in favour of OPS and EPS after Sasikala went to jail. The breach in the party has been resolved,” he said.

The issue has been lingering since April in the aftermath of the announcement of by-poll to RK Nagar Assembly constituency here following the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December last year.

Rival factions then led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam respectively had staked claim over the symbol. Edappadi K Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp.

In an interim order in March this year, the commission barred the two factions from using the party's name or its two leaves symbol in the bypoll.

Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala, who is in jail in a disproportionate assets case, and announced the merger of the two factions.

The EPS-OPS camp then submitted affidavits before the EC staking claim over the party name and symbol, which was contested by Sasikala-Dhinakaran camp.

The Commission on Thursday said its interim order freezing the symbol stands "withdrawn and rescinded" and that order will no longer be operative for any purposes.