By-Polls Ahead In Jayalalithaa's Turf, OPS Reaches For Party Symbol

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By-Polls Ahead In Jayalalithaa's Turf, OPS Reaches For Party Symbol

O Pannerselvam had led a rebellion within the AIADMK against Jayalalithaa aide VK Sasikala.

New Delhi:  Expelled AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam -- who precipitated a crisis in the party after his rebellion against VK Sasikala -- has said the party's election symbol should belong to his faction. By-elections in Chennai's RK Nagar constituency, which had been held by J Jayalalithaa, will be held on April 12. The rebel leader, who has got a handful of supporters within the party, says he will meet the Election Commission at noon tomorrow. His faction, he said, is the "original" AIADMK and should have the two-leaf election symbol, which is the party's biggest asset.

The last tussle for election symbol that the poll commission had to sort out was between former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh. On that occasion, the "cycle" had gone to the younger Yadav.

Mr Panneerselvam, who took over as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister after the death of J Jayalalithaa, stepped down last month to make way for her longtime companion VK Sasikala. But within days, he made a dramatic U-turn at a press conference outside the memorial of Jayalalithaa, claiming he had been forced to step down.  

While he had received huge popular support, he managed to scrape together only 11 votes in the show of strength in Assembly. The contest had been won easily by E Palaniswami, the chosen successor of Ms Sasikala, who had by then been jailed in a two-decade old corruption case. Before her surrender, Ms Sasikala had expelled Mr Panneerselvam.  But his faction has contested it, saying as the party's interim chief, she had no power to expel anybody.

Over the weekend, Mr Panneerselvam formed a "general council", appointing his trusted aide E Madhusudhanan as its chairman.

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