National

Battlelines drawn for RK Nagar byelection

Our Bureaus Chennai/New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 23, 2017

TTV Dinakaran

Deepa Jayakumar

E Madhusudhanan   -  BIJOY GHOSH

After EC awards new names, symbols to AIADMK factions, candidates file nominations



Candidates of both factions of the AIADMK filed their nominations for the much-anticipated bypoll to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency. The election will be held on April 12.

The seat fell vacant following the demise of former Chief Minister and party supremo J Jayalalithaa in December last year.

With the Election Commission freezing the ‘two leaves’ symbol, each faction has been assigned different names and symbols.

The faction represented by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has been given the name All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) and the ‘electric pole’ symbol, while the VK Sasikala faction is being called AIADMK (Amma) and has a ‘hat’ as its symbol.

The poll panel’s interim order came late on Wednesday.

In the fray

On Thursday, TTV Dinakaran of the Sasikala faction and E Madhusudhanan of the OPS (Panneerselvam) faction filed their nominations. Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, is the Deputy General Secretary of the AIADMK, and Madhusudhanan, the former Presidium Chairman.

Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar and BJP candidate, music director, Gangai Amaran are also in the fray. Main Opposition DMK has fielded local functionary Maruthu Ganesh.

Madhusudhanan, who represented RK Nagar between 1991 and 1996, said OPS enjoys the support of the people. “MGR, the [AIADMK’s] founder, and Amma (Jayalalithaa) never favoured family rule.”

He said Sasikala was only an assistant to ‘Amma’. Jayalalithaa had never allowed Sasikala’s relatives, including Dinakaran into the party, he asserted.

Dinakaran, sporting a white hat, told media persons that he would fulfil all the promises made by Jayalalithaa to develop RK Nagar as a ‘model constituency’.

A tough battle

The election will be hard-fought as it is being seen as a test of the people’s support, not just for either faction, but for the AIADMK itself, after the death of the charismatic Jayalalithaa.

Her death had sparked infighting in the party, with Sasikala taking over as General Secretary and making a bid for the post of Chief Minister. Panneerselvam, who was Chief Minister following Jayalalithaa’s death, chose to rebel, taking with him a few MLAs and MPs of the party. Sasikala’s plans were stalled only after she was convicted and jailed in a disproportionate assets case in which Jayalalithaa, too, was accused. Sasikala named Dinakaran as the Deputy General Secretary before surrendering to the authorities.

EC hard-pressed for time

In its interim order on Wednesday, the Commission said it had decided to freeze the “two leaves” symbol for the current by-election as there was little time for a full-fledged award.

What made things difficult for the poll panel were the practical difficulties of going through the supporting documents, which sources said, ran into over 20,000 pages.

These communications had to do with the OPS faction of the party approaching the Election Commission stating that the AIADMK had no provisions for picking an interim General Secretary and Sasikala’s appointment was therefore not valid. They also stressed that all appointments made by Sasikala were also illegal. Sasikala was appointed the interim General Secretary late last year in a unanimous resolution adopted by the party at its General Council meeting.

Published on March 23, 2017

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