EPS vs OPS...The big battle for ADMK's Two leaves symbol ahead of Erode East bypoll: Here's what's happening!

At a high time when the political parties are counting days for the Erode East bypoll in Tamil Nadu, the political turmoil in the opposition ADMK has put it in a stake as the escalating tussle between the top leaders Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) for the leadership has been taking erratic turns with both of them announcing that they will field candidates in the bypoll against each other. 

The Erode East bypoll will be held on February 27 and it was necessitated after a shocking demise of Congress MLA Thirumahan Everaa, who died on January 4 at the age of 46 due to heart attack. While the ruling DMK alliance has announced the candidate and launched the campaign, the opposition ADMK is yet to set things right and has come under a sharp public scrutiny for the feud between EPS and OPS. 

While EPS claims that he has expelled OPS from the party and that he has a strong support for his leadership in the ADMK, the Election Commission of India is yet to disregard OPS from the party's leadership. As per the Election Commission, OPS remains as ADMK's Chief Coordinator and EPS is the party's joint coordinator. Though the party has elected EPS as the interim general secretary, the Commission is yet to acknowledge it, in the wake of the legal battle between the rival leaders. 

Their rivalry has now sparked a battle for ADMK's trademark 'Two leaves' symbol ahead of the Erode East bypoll and it's certain that whoever wins the battle would possibly enjoy the symbol in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. As EPS announced that he will field a candidate in the bypoll, he was pushed to seek signature from OPS as the Chief Coordinator of the party. However, with an objective of toppling OPS from the top, EPS has now reached the Supreme Court in the battle for the symbol. 

EPS has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking allocation of the Two leaves symbol for him in the Erode East bypoll. EPS has sought a directive from the court to the Election Commission to allot the symbol for him. He has planned to establish to the Election Commission that he is ADMK's interim general secretary and that the post of Chief Coordinator, held by OPS, has been scrapped. 

The move would grant EPS to assign the Two leaves symbol to the candidate he picks for the bypoll without acquiring signature from OPS. In his petition to the apex court, EPS said, "It has been appealed that we want to field a candidate on our behalf in the Erode East byelection, and the Election Commission refuses to accept my signature as the Interim General Secretary. It has been appealed to the Election Commission to accept the decision of the ADMK Interim General Secretary." 

NDTV quoted the sources saying that EPS wants the apex court to ensure that the Election Commission allows him to sign off on his party's candidate to avoid the possibility of OPS creating trouble and freezing the party symbol. It has been reported that EPS has decided to approach the Supreme Court after the recent invite from the Tamil Nadu Election Commission has mentioned OPS as Coordinator and EPS as Joint Coordinator. 

The Supreme Court will soon be taking the petition of EPS for hearing. On the other hand, though both EPS and OPS are staging a political infight, they both are exhibiting the same political equation when it comes to winning the support from BJP. Last week, both the factions met Tamil Nadu BJP President Annamalai separately and sought the support from the saffron party. As EPS is firm that his faction will contest in the Erode East bypoll, OPS had said that he is ready to support BJP if it fields a candidate. As their moves are closely watched and their decision will weigh their leadership, all the three leaders are in a wary amid an already fragile political base. 

Recently, EPS has formed a team of hundreds of ADMK functionaries to carry out the electoral works in the Erode East constituency. It has been reported that EPS is planning to announce his candidate in two days and if the Election Commission freezes the Two leaves symbol, both the leaders would be contesting in different symbols. On the other side of the aisle, DMK has awarded the seat again to the Congress party and veteran Congress leader EVKS Elangovan, who is the father of deceased MLA Thirumahan Everaa, has been fielded as the candidate of the DMK alliance.