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Merger of rival factions will shift focus to election panel

Merger of rival factions will shift focus to election panel

CHENNAI: Once the much anticipated and imminent merger of the AIADMK factions led by the chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and former CM O Panneerselvam takes place, the action will shift to the Election Commission, which is sitting on petitions and a bunch of affidavits, filed by the multiple factions of the party, to decide on the way forward.

Following the split in AIADMK between these two factions in February this year, the Election Commission had frozen the party’s two-leaves symbol and also restrained both the camps from using the official name of the party. Consequently, while the EPS faction called itself AIADMK-Amma, the OPS faction chose the name AIADMK-Puratchithalaivi Amma.

“If you look at the past, when the factions of a political party merge together again, it ends the differences of opinion between the factions. Consequently, the Election Commission vacates its stay on the use of the name and symbol and allocates them back to the unified party. The same will happen in the case of AIADMK too,” senior party leader and prominent member of the OPS faction C Ponnaiyan told TOI. But it may be easier said than done, if one has to consider what the former chief election commissioner of India T S Krishnamurthy has to say. “First of all, I wonder why the petitions before the Election Commission by the warring factions of the AIADMK have not yet been disposed of. Now, in the event of a merger, the parties concerned (the factions) have to make a fresh representation and go for a final hearing, be fore a decision is taken on defreezing the party’s symbol and name,” Krishnamurthy said.

“Even if they come together and merge, they must clear all formalities and go for a final hearing and it should be heard by the full Commission and not an individual. As for the question of the appointment of the party’s general secretary V K Sasikala too, they have to give a representation, especially with the change in their respective stands,” he clarified. “More petitions could be filed from other segments within AIADMK and that is why a final hearing will be needed to put issues at rest,” he added.

As per the AIADMK party by-laws, approved by the Election Commission, the party’s executive committee takes certain decisions, based on the need and the emergency situations. It has to be subsequently ratified by the party’s general council. While the appointment of Sasikala as the general secretary was a “temporary arrangement”, there is no provision in the by-laws for appointment of a deputy general secretary.

“The removal of TTV Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary was signed by 27 out of 33 members of the party’s executive committee. In the case of Sasikala, the executive committee’s decision has to be ratified by the general council. And in the absence of a general secretary, the by-laws permit the setting up of a steering committee to oversee the party’s affairs, until a new general secretary is elected by all the over 1.6 crore members of the party, which will take time to complete,” Ponnaiyan said. “The AIADMK was split between factions earlier, when they approached the Election Commission. Now, after the merger, they will have to go back to it and say – we are all one and in the same party. That will pave the way for EC to take a decision to allocate back the party’s twoleaves symbol to them,” says N Gopalaswami, former chief election commission.

According to him, the original issue brought before the EC was the appointment of Sasikala as the party’s general secretary. It was the OPS faction which challenged the appointment and raised the question of whether it was done in compliance with the party’s rules. The other issues, about the use of party name and symbol, were raised later. “After the merger, the only issue before the EC will be the question about Sasikala’s appointment. Politicians being politicians, what if both the camps together decide to withdraw all petitions filed before the EC. In that case, the question of Sasikala’s appointment too will disappear,” Gopalaswami pointed out.

“Once the merger happens and the two factions together inform the EC, it could ask whether the merger has at least the majority support among the elected legislators to facilitate quick action, since checking the affidavits placed before it, running into lakhs, will be time consuming. It will be very difficult to check and verify those affidavits,” feels K M Vijayan, a senior advocate and expert on Constitutional affairs.


Source: Times of India

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