‘Two Leaves’ party symbol frozen, goes to none? Here’s why this decision paves way for more hype and drama in Tamil Nadu politics!

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New Delhi | Updated: March 22, 2017 11:45:59 PM

It's official - the 'Two leaves' party symbol will remain frozen! This means neither Sasikala faction nor OPS camp can stake a claim over the symbol!

The tussle between Sasikala-led AIADMK faction and OPS-led camp is not over yet. (PTI)

The tussle between Sasikala-led AIADMK faction and OPS-led camp is not over yet. The ”fight” is still on and this time, the battle is about the party symbol – ”Two Leaves” – which both camps claim to be theirs.

And now the Election Commission has heard and decided on the AIADMK party symbol issue. It’s official – the ‘Two leaves’ party symbol will remain frozen! This means neither Sasikala faction nor OPS camp can stake a claim over the symbol!

Sasikala’s nephew and AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran had triggered a political controversy when he stated on Sunday, “Two leaves symbol belongs to us.”

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O Panneerselvam’s camp has been continuously asserting their right over the party symbol and had submitted a petition to the Election Commission requesting the two leaves symbol to be allowed to them for the upcoming April 12th bypolls to RK Nagar constituency. The RK Nagar seat fell vacant following the death of AIADMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The Sasikala-led faction had filed a petition before the Election Commission on Tuesday, staking their claim to the party symbol.

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had cited the AIADMK’s Constitution and party bylaws to counter this move saying, “As per the AIADMK Constitution, if the post of the general secretary falls vacant, the office bearers such as the Presidium Chairman and Treasures have the power to run the party. In this case, E Madhusudhanan is in charge and it is proper that he should finalise and call ths shots, not Sasikala.”

So, what are the pros and cons for both factions?

If the EC had ruled Sasikala’s nomination as invalid, then her nephew TTV Dinakaran who is standing for the RK Nagar bypolls would have lost face and had to opt for other party symbols to contest. This would also mean a serious setback for the Sasikala-led faction, given that they have staked claim to continue Jayalalithaa’s political legacy and take charge of the party. Now that the party symbol itself has been frozen and OPS camp also gets no opportunity to use it, Sasikala faction may still come up with a smart move to woo voters in true blue dramatic style. As we all know, there’s more action and drama in Tamil Nadu politics than in the movies!

A win would have given the Sasikala faction a real advantage in creating a popular perception of being the legitimate political heirs of J Jayalalithaa.

However, if the OPS group had won the two leaves symbol, they would have been able to leverage the widespread public resentment against Sasikala to establish their political legitimacy.

This decision by the Election Commission will have far-reaching political implications in Tamil Nadu politics as the battle is for keeping alive the powerful legacy of the party’s supremo – J Jayalalithaa.

Questions remain – Could it be that beyond the idealism of the Dravidian political narrative, both factions – be it Sasikala or OPS – share a limited understanding of what the party can do to lift the state to greater heights rather than be entangled in internal fights and bickering over the party symbol?

That there has to be a larger discourse on setting an internal democratic framework for the party cadres voices to be heard and their needs addressed without the looming shadows of nepotism is clear. But who in the AIADMK party will dare to do the needful to revive the party’s electoral chances?

Given that the party symbol of ”Two leaves” has now been frozen by the Election Commission, political pundits may dare to hope that finally the faction fights will cease and the legacy of Jayalalithaa’s pro-poor schemes for the economic and social empowerment of the poor will be revived.

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