The coveted “two leaves” symbol has been made over to the ruling AIADMK faction, which includes the chief minister and his deputy, in yet another defining moment in Tamil Nadu’s long-running political saga, that started after the death of former CM J. Jayalalithaa and the incarceration of her confidante V.K. Sasikala. The Election Commission couldn’t have taken any other decision, given the ruling group’s numerical superiority, with a majority of its MLAs and MPs as well as general council members backing it. All other arguments stood defeated when the government and party have been functioning under the present office-bearers, and except for some minor dissidence there’s no cause to decide otherwise. The question of who put them in the saddle is of little relevance given that the AIADMK case is fairly peculiar.
The fact that Sasikala was jailed for corruption, dashing her political ambitions, weakened her and her nephew’s hold on the government and party. The moral question of whether a person jailed under the anti-corruption law could still head a major party was never addressed as the EC deliberated upon and decided the case. On that count alone, it’s possible to predict more money will be used to challenge the EC’s order. We haven’t heard the last of the AIADMK’s internal strife, but the action will move on quickly to the byelection for the seat left vacant by Jayalalithaa, and the day when the Edappadi Palaniswami government will have to face the Assembly. Tamil Nadu’s tragedy is that the debate won’t be about the quality of governance as much as about Dravidian politics.