RK Nagar bypoll: EC to hear OPS, Sasikala factions' final pitch for party symbol

According to reports, the Election Commission may choose to freeze the symbol instead of authorising either camp to use it.

After adjudicating a bitter squabble over the Samajwadi Party's election symbol in January, the Election Commission must feel a sense of déja vu as the battle for the AIADMK's 'twin-leaf' icon enters its last leg.

With the late Jayalalithaa's constituency, Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar, set to elect a new MLA on April 12, representatives of the AIADMK factions led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and General Secretary VK Sasikala will present their case for ownership of the symbol to the EC tomorrow in New Delhi, Thina Thanthi reported.

The poll panel may choose to freeze the symbol instead of authorising either camp to use it, reports said.

The Panneerselvam-led faction has told the EC that the validity of Sasikala's elevation as General Secretary of the AIADMK is invalid.

The long-time aide of Jayalalithaa, now an inmate in a Bengaluru prison after being convicted in a disproportionate assets case in February, has defended her appointment in 70-page document.

Her camp is expected to reply to an EC notice on Panneerselvam's complaint today, the news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) reported.

Last month, both Panneerselvam and Sasikala were locked in a dramatic tussle over the leadership of the AIADMK and the Tamil Nadu government. While Sasikala's hopes of becoming chief minister dissipated after her conviction, Pannerselvam was forced to pass the baton to Sasikala loyalist Edappadi K Palaniswami, who received the Governor's invitation to take over at Fort St. George and confirmed his appointment in a trust vote.

TEAM OPS WELL-RECEIVED IN JAYA'S FIEFDOM, CLAIMS FORMER MINISTER

While the Panneerselvam camp has chosen to field former Presidium Chairman E Madhusudhanan in R K Nagar, the Sasikala-led group has picked her nephew TTV Dinakaran, who's now Deputy General Secretary, to contest the by-poll.

Former Education minister Ma Foi K Pandiarajan on Monday said the Panneerselvam camp has been "well-received" in the constituency and that it was confident of getting the party symbol, PT reported.

'Team OPS' has told the EC it has the support of 43 lakh AIADMK workers, the channel tweeted yesterday.

Dinakaran sounded no less confident on Sunday, when he said he would file his nomination on March 23 under the same symbol.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, too, has thrown its hat in the ring, fielding Gangai Amaran, brother of the veteran music composer Ilayajaja. Jayalalithaa's niece, Deepa Jayakumar, will also contest the by-poll.

Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) deputy chief and Opposition leader MK Stalin is said to be pleased that a survey shows his party's candidate, Maruthu Ganesh, will win the by-poll, Dinamalar reported.

1,638 POLL WORKERS TO BE DEPLOYED

As many as 1,638 poll workers will be deployed during the R K Nagar by-election and poll booths will be monitored using CCTV and web-cameras, PT d EC official Praveen Nair as saying.

Jayalalithaa was elected two consecutive times to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from the constituency - in 2015 and 2016.

This year, 13 nominations have been file so far, Nair added. Anyone else wishing to enter the fray must do so by March 23.

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