Sasikala Camp Meets Poll Commission, Defends Her Election As AIADMK Chief

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Sasikala Camp Meets Poll Commission, Defends Her Election As AIADMK Chief

VK Sasikala is currently in jail, serving her sentence in a corruption case.


New Delhi:  The battle over the AIADMK's election symbol has been started with an eye to the coming by-elections in J Jayalalithaa's constituency and "now is not the time for this" -- an AIADMK delegation representing VK Sasikala told the Election Commission today. The delegation, led by party parliamentarian M Thambidurai, defended her election as the party chief, which had been challenged before the commission yesterday by rebel leader O Panneerselvam.

Mr Panneerselvam -- a Jayalalithaa loyalist who became the Chief Minister after her death and had to step down to make way for Sasikala -- has also made a bid for AIADMK's two-leaf election symbol. He has claimed that his faction is the "original" AIADMK, and hence deserved the party's biggest asset, its election symbol.

Mr Panneerselvam,  who had been expelled after his rebellion last month,  had also argued that that as an interim General Secretary, Ms Sasikala had no power to expel anyone. In his meeting with the Election Commission yesterday, he had asked that her election to the post be declared illegal.

Denying that there is any split in the party, Mr Thambidurai said, "Chinamma is our general secretary and duly elected as per party provision and she can take any decision... If someone raises any issue, this is not the time, because by-poll has already started."

Ms Sasikala, the long-time companion of Ms Jayalalithaa, whom the party had turned to in the days after her death, is currently in jail serving a sentence. Her Chief Ministerial ambitions were cut short by a Supreme Court order saying that she should be convicted in a 20-year-old corruption case.

But there are indications that Ms Sasikala is still at the helm of affairs. Her loyalist E Palaniswami has taken over as the Chief Minister and her nephew, TTV Dinakaran, a party office bearer, is the AIADMK's official candidate for the Chennai's RK Nagar seat, which fell vacant after the death of Ms Jayalalithaa.


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