New Delhi: The battle for the AIADMK's "two leaves symbol" is in the home stretch. The Election Commission of India is likely to decide today which of the two camps that lay claim to J Jayalalithaa's political legacy - the one led by led O Panneerselvam or the other presided over by VK Sasikala serving time in a Bengaluru jail - should get the election symbol.
The commission, which would hear out the final pitch of the two sides early on Wednesday, is expected to rule either ways by evening.
The commission can also freeze the symbol and ask the rival factions to contest the by election to Chennai's RK Nagar assembly seat that fell vacant following the death of the AIADMK matriarch, or Amma, in December on a new symbol. Today is the last date for filing nominations for the election to be held on April 12.
O Panneerselvam, or OPS, the trusted lieutenant of the former chief minister had taken charge but was, according to him, forced to quit by VK Sasikala, who was later convicted by the Supreme Court to four years in jail in a two-decade old disproportionate assets case where Jayalalithaa was also an accused. Before she went to a Bengaluru jail, Sasikala, however, appointed nephew TTV Dinakaran as the party's deputy chief and her proxy, E Palaniswamy, as chief minister.
She continues to be the party chief as there is no provision to bar a convict from heading a political party. The law only restricts the convict from contesting elections within six years after completing the jail term.
Her camp has named Mr Dinakaran as its candidate from RK Nagar seat, pitted against OPS camp's heavyweight E Madhusudanan. Also in the fray for the seat is another claimant for Jayalalithaa legacy, niece Deepa Jayakumar.
Together with his handful of supporters, OPS had last tried to dislodge chief minister but Palaniswami sailed through the trust vote with ease, a point that the Sasikala-Dinakaran camp has made before the Election Commission to demonstrate that it represents the real AIADMK. It has also contended that it had overwhelming support in the party's top body, the General Council and Executive Council.
The OPS camp, on the other hand, has submitted 6,000 affidavits by AIADMK functionaries who, it claims, command the support of around 43 lakh AIADMK cadres.