Election Commission freezes AIADMK symbol, asks factions to pick new party names

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Chennai: The Election Commission blocked the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ party symbol on March 22 after rival factions led by K Palaniswamy and O Panneerselvam staked claim to it ahead of a by-poll necessitated by J Jayalalithaa’s death.
The two factions have been also been asked to pick new party names for the RK Nagar by-poll.
“Neither of the two groups led by the petitioners ( E. Madhusudhanan, O Panneerselvam and S. Semmalai) and the respondents ( V.K. Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ simplicitor,” the EC order said.
Citing “practical difficulties” in evaluating the evidence presented by both factions, the EC said the interim order was designed to “place both the rival groups on even keel to protect their rights and interests.”
The two groups will have to inform the EC by 10am on Thursday about the names and symbols they pick for the by-poll.
The ‘two leaves’ symbol has been synonymous with the AIADMK since it was founded by actor-turned-politician MG Ramachandran.
While the decision may cause consternation for the by-election to the late CM’s seat, its fallout is further complicated by the status of the party’s general secretary. According to party bylaws, in order to legitimise a candidate’s claim to the symbol, the party general secretary needs to sign a form. The AIADMK general secretary, VK Sasikala, is currently lodged in a Bengaluru jail.
The matter is further complicated by the fact Sasikala was never formally elected as the party general secretary, but merely “appointed” – which is not permitted by party bylaws, according to the Panneerselvam faction.
The RK Nagar by-poll is being seen as a litmus test for the future of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

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