Spotlight on BJP as both AIADMK camps look to contest bypoll seat

While the EPS-led faction sought support for its candidate, Panneerselvam went a step further announcing to opt out of the race if BJP wished to contest. With two factions staking claim for the party’s Two Leaves symbol, the symbol faces the threat of being frozen for a third time.
O Panneerselvam in conversation with Annamalai
O Panneerselvam in conversation with AnnamalaiJustin George

Chennai: The Erode East Assembly bypoll has once again brought the feud between AIADMK leaders Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam to the fore with both factions knocking at the doors of Kamalalayam, BJP State headquarters here, soliciting support for their respective candidates.

While the EPS-led faction sought support for its candidate, Panneerselvam went a step further announcing to opt out of the race if BJP wished to contest. With two factions staking claim for the party’s Two Leaves symbol, the symbol faces the threat of being frozen for a third time. Both AIADMK factions held discussions with BJP state president K Annamalai separately at Kamalalayam on Saturday.

“As I had made it clear in the morning, we will contest. But if the national party expresses its desire to nominate its candidate, then the AIADMK will extend moral support to its candidate,” Panneerselvam said emerging after a discussion with Annamalai and senior leaders in the party.

“The talks were cordial and satisfactory,” said former minister D Jayakumar, who met BJP leaders in the company of seniors from EPS camp.

Earlier, both AIADMK factions also called on Thamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam founder John Pandian to seek his support. Pandian expressed his wish for both camps to jointly fight the bypoll.

This is the first byelection being held in the State after the DMK-led alliance swept the 2021 elections. The bypoll was necessitated following the recent demise of Congress legislator Thirumahan Everaa.

Speaking to reporters here, Panneerselvam said his faction was willing to support the BJP candidate in the byelection if the national party wanted to contest.

Asked if his decision, especially with Palaniswami already making it clear that his dominant faction is keen on contesting Erode East seat, could cause confusion among party cadre, OPS replied: “It is he (Palaniswami) who is creating confusion. Ask him.”

He claimed the party’s Two Leaves symbol was with him as the Election Commission of India still recognised him as the Coordinator of AIADMK.

His party would accept any symbol allotted by the ECI in case the party symbol could not be retained, Panneerselvam added. ↔ More on P5

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