EPS runs roughshod over OPS in run up to polls
Chennai: The AIADMK faction headed by Edappadi K Palaniswami stole a march over the rival group led by O Panneerselvam on Monday as the latter’s candidate Senthil Murugan for the Erode East by-election withdrew his nomination and the Election Commission of India (ECI) accepted the affidavits presented by party presidium chairperson Tamilmagan Hussain, indicating the allotment of the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol to them.
Though the Panneerselvam faction had refused to participate in the polling on the selection of candidate through the filing of affidavits, as ordered by the Supreme Court, the Palaniswami group emerged triumphant after 2501 of the total 2655 general council members endorsed the candidature of K S Thennarasu for the February 27 by-election.
With the dispute over the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol between the two factions dragging, the Supreme Court ordered the convening of the original General Council of the party with all the members who were expelled by the Palaniswami group honchos and then holding a poll for the nominee, which was telling the warring factions, in a different way, to identify a common candidate.
Taking into consideration the difficulties involved in convening the General Council in such a short notice – the last day for filing of nominations for Erode East by-election is Tuesday – the court itself allowed the process of obtaining affidavits from the members, which put Tamilmagan Hussain, who was entrusted with the responsibility of calling the meeting and also signing Form A and B of the nomination papers, on his toes.
Tamilmagan Hussain and senior leader of the group, C Ve Shanmugham, rushed to New Delhi, taking a 10 am flight from Chennai on Monday, and presented the affidavits at the ECI. The Panneerselvam faction that dilly dallied on taking part in the election process through affidavits - first said that they would abide by the Supreme Court order and then backed out of it alleging that the affidavit was not in proper form, giving no scope for members to name their candidate - finally withdrew from the race itself.
So Senthil Murugan withdrew his nomination after a few days of campaign and also setting up an election office as Panneerselvam was hell bent on contesting the by-election even after BJP State President and National Secretary C T Ravi called on him at his residence on Friday and suggested that two groups stay united and field a common candidate and not let anti-DMK votes to scatter among various contenders.
After a meeting of the leaders of the Panneerselvam faction in the morning, one of the leaders, K P Krishnan announced that their candidate would withdraw because they did not want to see the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol getting trounced in the election. He said the ‘Two Leaves’ was created by party founder M G Ramachandran and protected by his successor J Jayalalithaa.
He said Pannerselvam would campaign for the victory of the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. However the grapevine has it that the decision of the faction to withdraw from the electoral race was due to the fear of ruffling the feathers of the BJP by putting up a candidate which would divide the anti-DMK votes and result in the victory of Congress candidate E V K S Elangovan.
Another reason was that the faction had no chances of getting the ‘Two Leaves’ after the Supreme Court ordered the seeking of affidavits from General Council members – Palaniswami always enjoyed an overwhelming in the GC and the party – and they did not want to be seen as causing the freezing of the symbol that could lead to them being branded as ‘anti-Two Leaves.’
However, ahead of Thennarasu filing his papers on the last day for nominations and also being allotted the ‘Two Leaves,’ several top leaders were campaigning for Elangovan, Apart from State Minister R Muthusamy, who is a local satrap of the DMK, other top leaders like Minister K N Nehru and E V Velu were working on the ground – canvassing votes and also holding meeting with campaigners.
Of course, AIADMK’s chosen leader to spearhead the campaign, K A Sengottaiyan, also continued his work with no letup unmindful of the party getting their traditional symbol or not. Now his campaign is expected to intensify once the ECI allots their popular symbol to Thennarasu.