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Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and staked claim to the AIADMK's symbol ahead of the upcoming by-poll to R K Nagar constituency in Chennai. "R K Nagar bypoll has been announced and we have asked the ECI to allot the party symbol, twin leaves, to us citing various violations of party bylaws that the Sasikala faction has made," Panneerselvam told reporters after meeting the CEC. He said his faction will formally file a petition with the ECI on Friday. Panneerselvam also demanded that the poll panel order fresh election for AIADMK general secretary's post, which was currently occupied by V K Sasikala, alleging she was elevated to the position in violation of the norms. She is serving the remainder of her prison term after her conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in a disproportionate assets case. "We have asked the ECI to intervene and hold elections for AIADMK's top post under its observation," he said. The OPS camp said since Sasikala had not completed five years in the party after her reinduction, her elevation and appointments and removals made by her were in violation of the party bylaws. "We have asked the ECI to look into the issue," he said. Sasikala, her husband M Natarajan and a few other relatives were expelled from AIADMK in 2011 by the late J Jayalalithaa amid reports that they interfered in party and government administration.
Although she had later withdrawn the "disciplinary action" against Sasikala after she expressed regret, Jayalalithaa had, however, said the expulsion of others would continue. Sasikala's nephew TTV Dinakaran, who was also expelled by Jayalalithaa, was reinducted into the party and made its deputy general secretary by his aunt before she headed for jail. A former Rajya Sabha MP, Dinakaran has been declared AIADMK nominee for the R K Nagar seat which fell vacant after Jayalalithaa's demise. The OPS faction said Dinakaran's conviction in a Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) case has also been brought to the notice of ECI. When asked about Dinakaran's candidature for the by-poll, AIADMK MP V Maitreyan said, "It is a democracy and anybody can contest." He, however, added "as the party symbol will be given to us, Dinakaran will be contesting as an independent candidate." Maitreyan also alleged that AIADMK has been "hijacked" by a small group. "The party still belongs to us, but a small group has hijacked it which Amma never wanted," Maitreyan said. Panneerselvam said his camp will declare its candidate for the R K Nagar seat in a couple of days. "The parliamentary board of the party will choose a candidate in a couple of days. Besides, other political parties are reaching us for an alliance and a decision on that would be taken after consultations with stakeholders," he said. DMK has announced N Maruthuganesh as its candidate for the April 12 by-poll.
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