Battle for 'Two Leaves' symbol in the ADMK: Top leaders of EPS faction leave to Delhi...What we can expect?

The top leaders of an ADMK faction led by Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) rushed to Delhi on Monday - February 6 to meet the Election Commissioners to win the battle of taking over the party's 'Two Leaves' symbol ahead of the Erode East bypoll. As EPS is in a rush to get the symbol before the bypoll, his rival O Panneerselvam (OPS) is also working out a plan with his faction. 

The Erode East bypoll has been scheduled to be held on February 7 and the last date to file the nomination papers is February 7. By the time of writing this content, the ADMK, which is Tamil Nadu's principal opposition party, has one day left to field its candidate. However, as both EPS and OPS are crossing swords to take control of the party, they both had earlier announced candidates for the bypoll and sought BJP's support. 

Though the saffron party remained tight-lipped, ADMK's EPS began his move of winning the Two Leaves symbol for his candidate. However, as the Election Commission warrants, his candidate and the symbol must be consented by OPS as the latter remains as ADMK's Coordinator, though EPS expelled him from the party. With this catch-22 situation, EPS approached the Supreme Court to win the Two Leaves symbol by citing that he has been elected as the interim general secretary. EPS has also contended that OPS was expelled from the party and that the post of Coordinator, held by him, has been scrapped. 

However, in its submission, the Election Commission has divulged its denial to acknowledge EPS as ADMK's interim general secretary and further said that the ADMK's bylaws dated on 11.07.2022 were not taken on record by the Election Commission. Last Friday, the Supreme Court allowed OPS and two other expelled leaders to participate in the party's General Council meet to select the candidate for the Erode East bypoll. 

According to LiveLaw, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy passed the interim order by considering the fact that the last date for filing the nomination papers is February 7 and a workable solution appears to be in the interest of the ADMK and in the interest and propagation of democracy. The bench further pressed that the interim order applies only in relation to the upcoming bypoll. As per the order, the final decision to choose a candidate is vested with the General Council of ADMK. 

Looking at the time constraints, the Court said that the process of convening the General Council may be taken up by way of putting necessary resolutions through consideration by circulation. By citing that the three expelled people from the party, including OPS, can put forward their views in the selection of the candidate in this present purpose, the Court further stated that the ultimate decision of the General Council, as regards to choosing the candidate, shall be conveyed to the Election Commission of India, by ADMK's Presidium Chairman Tamil Magan Hussain. 

The Bench had also made it clear that the judgment in the main matter remains reserved and that this interim order neither confers nor takes away any additional right of any party. Based on the Supreme Court's order, the ADMK has begun the process of seeking the views of the General Council Members of the party. As EPS has more support with over 2,000 General Council Members, we can expect that EPS holds an advantage to win the Two Leaves symbol to his candidate in the Erode East bypoll. 

On Monday, top leaders from EPS faction - Tamil Magan Hussain and senior ADMK leader C Ve Shanmugam rushed to Delhi. They will be submitting the documents, which they claim to have the support of 90% of general council members to EPS's candidate Thennarasu, to the Election Commission of India. We can also expect the final decision of the Election Commission on the Two Leaves symbol on Monday.

On the other hand, OPS has also announced Senthil Murugan as his candidate in the Erode East bypoll and Senthil Murugan had last week filed his nominations, while EPS candidate Thennarasu will be filing his nominations on Tuesday - February 7 based on the final decision from the Election Commission of India. Earlier, the OPS faction said it would support the candidate who contests in the Two Leaves symbol in the bypoll.