The Election Commission today opposed in the Delhi High Court the plea of T T V Dhinakaran, AIADMK (Amma) faction leader, seeking a temporary name and symbol for his group till his petition laying claim to the ‘two-leaves’ symbol is decided. The poll panel told the high court that only a recognised or registered political party can be alloted a symbol or given a name, and Dhinakaran’s faction was neither.
A similar stand was taken before Justice Rekha Palli by the faction headed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam who contended that the proper forum for filing the petition was Madras High Court as the entire dispute was confined to the state of Tamil Nadu. Appearing for the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the court that by getting a temporary name and symbol, Dhinakaran was trying to create “a party within the party” which was not permissible.
He also said that one of the three names suggested by Dhinakaran yesterday, All India Amma Anna Dhravidar Munnetra Kazhagam, was similar to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and would be a cause of action for filing a trademark infringement suit. The other two names that have been suggested are MGR Amma Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam and MGR Amma Dhravidar Kazhagam.
Dhinakaran’s lawyer, Amit Anand Tiwari, sought an order from the court that the EC be directed not to register any party under the three suggested names. This oral request was opposed by the other side and the court said it was not passing any interim order at this stage when arguments on the application for a temporary name and symbol are yet to be concluded. The arguments in the matter will continue on February 18.
Dhinakaran’s lawyers had yesterday argued that his faction was already a political party and it must have a symbol and he cannot be forced to register as a new party, otherwise they would have to give up all claims to the original party — AIADMK. He has sought a direction to the EC to allot his group the symbol of ‘pressure cooker’ for the local body elections likely to be held soon, or any other poll during the pendency of his petition. Dhinakaran had won the bye-elections held in Radha Krishnan Nagar Assembly constituency in December last year under the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol with a margin of over 40,000 votes.
His application for using a suitable name and symbol was moved in his main petition challenging the poll panel’s November 23, 2017 decision holding the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction as the real AIADMK and allotting them the ‘two-leaves’ symbol. On December 4 last year, the high court had declined to grant any interim relief to V K Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction of the AIADMK by dismissing their plea to use the ‘hat’ symbol in the by-poll to the R K Nagar assembly constituency.
The court had left the decision to the Returning Officer who had allotted the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to Dhinakaran for the by-poll held on December 21, 2017. The hat symbol was given to the Sasikala-Dhinakaran group by the EC in March 2017 after it froze the use of the ‘two-leaves’ symbol to which the group led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam had also laid claim. The Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction had at the same time been granted the ‘electric pole’ symbol.
However, on November 23, 2017, the poll panel had ruled in favour of Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction by allotting the ‘two-leaves’ symbol to them. The symbol issue has been lingering since April in the aftermath of the announcement of by-poll to Radha Krishnan Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu following the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December 2016. Earlier, rival factions led by Sasikala and Panneerselvam had staked claim over the symbol. Palaniswami was then in the Sasikala camp. Later, a large number of legislators led by Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala.