The Supreme Court’s order refusing allotment of 'pressure cooker' symbol to Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) founder T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Tuesday sparked a debate if Mr. Dhinakaran played his cards rightly on the symbol issue.
As the one-year-old AMMK has not yet registered itself with the Election Commission (EC) as a political party, its case for the allotment of the symbol, in the eyes of the Commission, became untenable, a point accepted by the court too.
Asked what difference it would have made if the party had completed the process of registration earlier, P. Palaniappan, AMMK headquarters secretary, replied that such a course would have meant the “surrender of our claim over the AIADMK and the symbol of two leaves, which even now we do not want to do.” Besides, the current episode demonstrated the “fighting spirit” of Mr. Dhinakaran, said the party Dharmapuri Lok Sabha constituency candidate.
However, C.Ve. Shanmugam, Law Minister and a member of the AIADMK team that defended the party before the Supreme Court and Election Commission in the last two years, said that with this development, the “game” of the AMMK founder had come to an end. “Hereafter, he can no longer make any claim over the party and our symbol,” he said. There was an “inherent contradiction” in the position of Mr. Dhinakaran of seeking the allotment of “cooker symbol” while continuing to stake the claim over “two leaves,” the Minister said, wondering how one could ask for two symbols.
Raja Senthoor Pandian, counsel for Mr. Dhinakaran and his aunt, V.K. Sasikala, said the “important aspect” of the court’s order was that all 59 candidates of the AMMK would get a common symbol. “Otherwise, you imagine how the situation would be for us if each contestant is fighting on a separate symbol.”
Mr. Palaniappan explained that the importance of a common symbol assumed greater importance in the light of by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies that will be taken simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls.
“Take the case of my parliamentary constituency, Dharmapuri. Two Assembly segments of the seat – Harur, and Pappireddipatti – are also witnessing the by-polls. Under such circumstances, we cannot afford to have separate symbols for our candidates as this will confuse voters,” he pointed out.
G. Palanithurai, former Professor of Gandhigram Rural Institute, said the day’s development was significant for Mr. Dhinakaran as the court had conceded his demand for a common symbol despite not granting “pressure cooker.”