- Dhinakaran's support shrinks after he lost the fight for AIADMK's symbol
- 3 of his supporters left him ahead of the RK Nagar by-election
- RK Nagar was J Jayalalithaa's constituency before her death
On Monday, Rajya Sabha members Navaneeda Krishnan, Vijala Sathyanand and Gopalakrishnan met the Chief Minister, popularly called EPS and said their loyalty is to the party. Sources in the AIADMK said the lawmakers have admitted that the EPS-OPS faction represent the "real AIADMK after the Election Commission gave them two-leaves symbol".
Last week, the Election Commission had recognized the united AIADMK under Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his predecessor O Panneerselvam as the "real" party and allowed it to use the two-leaves election symbol. The Commission rejected the claim of TTV Dhinakaran -- who launched an unsuccessful bid to control it after the death of its iconic leader J Jayalalithaa -- saying he "doesn't enjoy support in the party."
Mr Dhinakaran, who said he would appeal in the Supreme Court against the poll panel's decision, claims to have the support of 18 legislators and many others in the party. But only six parliamentarians, three from the Lok Sabha and three from Rajya Sabha, had given affidavits to the Election Commission, declaring support for Mr Dhinakaran's aunt VK Sasikala, who is currently in jail in a corruption case.
The Parliamentarians who crossed over on Monday all belong to the Rajya Sabha. The 18 legislators who showed support for Mr Dhinakaran were disqualified by the Speaker in September, a month after they met the Governor and gave letters withdrawing support from the Palaniswami government.
Mr Dhinakaran, who was the de facto head of the EPS faction at the time, was also its candidate for RK Nagar. But following an allegation that he had tried to bribe Election Commission officials for the two-leaf symbol, the election in RK Nagar was postponed. Mr Dhinakaran, who was arrested, is currently out on bail.
The election to the constituency will be held on December 21.