The EC stated that EPS-OPS faction enjoys the support of majority of members, both in organisational and legislature wings of the AIADMK.

Massive win for EPS-OPS Two leaves symbol goes to them rules EC
news Politics Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 12:41

In a big boost for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the Election Commission on Thursday recognised the ruling faction as the AIADMK and ordered that the two leaves symbol belongs to the merged EPS-OPS camp. The EC’s decision comes eight months after the AIADMK symbol was frozen.

It also comes after EC heard arguments from the two factions of the AIADMK – one led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and his Deputy O Panneerselvam and the other led by ousted leader VK Sasikala.

In its 83-page order, the Election Commission stated that the dispute has to be decided on the touchstone of numerical superiority between the rival groups in the organizational and legislature wings of the party.  

The Commission observed that it has consistently followed a similar test in past disputes including the recent verdict where Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s faction was recognised as the Janata Dal (United) and allotted the party symbol.

To determine the relative strength of the two groups in the organisational wing of the AIADMK, the EC looked at the members of General Council.  It argued that the Commission cannot be expected to hold a referendum among the millions of primary members of the AIADMK.

“The General Council of the party can be taken as the body fairly representative of the views of the primary members forming rank and file of the party in this case, as contemplated in the decision of the Supreme Court in Sadiq Ali's case (supra),” stated the Commission in its order.

After the Commission verified and analysed the affidavits filed by both camps, the EC stated that the EPS-OPS combine had 1741 affidavits in its favour, while the Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction had 145.

“The petitioners group (EPS-OPS) has demonstrated overwhelming support among the members of the General Council and, consequently, the Commission hereby holds that the petitioners' group enjoys the majority support among the members of the General Council and, thus, in the organizational wing of the party,” ruled the EC.

Similarly, as far as the affidavits filed by MPs and MLAs was concerned, EPS-OPS faction has the support of 111 MLAs against Sasikala-Dhinakaran’s 20. Thirty-four Lok Sabha MPs and 8 Rajya Sabha MPs signed affidavits supporting the ruling camp, while only 3 Lok Sabha and 3 Rajya Sabha MPs came out in support of Sasikala and Dhinakaran.

In its final order, the Election Commission stated, “Having regard to the findings of the Commission in the foregoing paragraphs, the Commission is of the considered opinion that the petitioners group led by Shri E. Madhusudhanan, O. Panneerselvam and S. Semmalai, and also supported presently by the impleading applicant Shri E.K Palaniswami, the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, enjoys support of majority of members, both in the organizational and legislature wings of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Accordingly, the said group led by Shri E. Madhusudhanan and others is hereby recognized, in terms of para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which is a recognized 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. Consequently, the said group led by Shri E. Madhusudhanan will be entitled to use the name of the party' All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam' and its reserved symbol 'Two Leaves'.”

Reacting to the verdict, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said, “The EC has given a good decision. They have allocated the symbol to us. They have given this decision based on the  number of cadres, MPs, MLAs who are on our side. We submitted affidavits to prove that majority of party cadres are with us. We are happy. This is a fair decision by the EC.”

"It's a historic day. We're the only party to have reclaimed the party symbol twice. In 1989, we lost the symbol after MGR's death, and we got it back under the leadership of Jayalalithaa. Now, we're very happy that we have got the symbol again. A large number of party cadre are supporting EPS and OPS," said Maitreyan, a senior AIADMK leader and MP part of the EPS-OPS camp.

The Sasikala-TTV Dhinakaran faction now has the option of approaching the Supreme Court.

Thousands of affidavits have been filed by both camps, staking claim to the party symbol. 

Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the EC to decide on the two leaves symbol case by November 10. This after Dhinakaran had sought to extend the deadline over settling the dispute.

The Madras High Court had in September directed the Commission to settle the two leaves symbol row and set a deadline of October 31.

The dispute over the party symbol arose following former CM O Panneerselvam’s rebellion against VK Sasikala’s leadership. OPS along with other party leaders E Madhusudhanan and Semmalai approached the Election Commission challenging Sasikala’s appointment as AIADMK General Secretary. They had also staked claim to the two leaves symbol in their petition filed with the EC on March 16.

The Election Commission had on March 22 frozen the two leaves symbol ahead of the RK Nagar bye-elections, which was later scrapped over allegations of voter bribery. In its March order, the EC had barred the use of the name of the party – All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the two leaves symbol.

In August, however, the OPS faction merged with EPS’s side and have together filed affidavits before the Commission with the signature of office bearers.

This is the second instance where the AIADMK party symbol has been frozen and then unfrozen by the Election Commission. Following party founder and former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran’s demise in 1987 – the AIADMK was split between his wife Janaki and his protégé Jayalalithaa. Ahead of the 1989 Assembly Elections, the EC had frozen the two leaves symbol. Following Janaki’s rout in the Assembly polls, the two factions merged, paving the way for Jayalalithaa to reclaim the party symbol.

 

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