The split in SP was on Tuesday formalised, with the Akhilesh Yadav camp approaching the Election Commission to assert that the party is “actually” headed by the Chief Minister now and not its founder Mulayam Singh who had knocked at the doors of the poll panel on Monday to lay claim on ‘cycle’ symbol.
Hours after his camp staked claim over the party and its election symbol ‘cycle’, Akhilesh drove to his father’s residence and was with him for nearly two hours, leading to speculation about patch-up efforts which was discounted by the Chief Minister’s camp as “too late”.
Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam’s brother who is at loggerheads with Akhilesh, also joined them after coming back from Delhi. Leaders from the Akhilesh faction – Ram Gopal Yadav, Naresh Agarwal and Kiranmoy Nanda – met the Election Commissioners on Tuesday morning to stake claim over SP and its election symbol. “The real Samajwadi Party belongs to us as 90 per cent of the people support us,” Ram Gopal, who is Mulayam’s cousin and has sided with Akhilesh in the family feud, told reporters after meeting the Commission. He was asked about what he conveyed to the Commission on the party and its symbol.
Now, with the rival factions staking claim over the party and its symbol, the ball is in the Commission’s court. Since the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh are set to be announced any day now, the Commission has little time to adjudicate the matter. As an interim measure, it is now likely to freeze the cycle symbol and ask the two factions to contest on a new symbol. It may also give the two sides a new name to contest the polls till the time a final decision is taken on the real ‘ownership’ of Samajwadi Party and its symbol ‘cycle’.
While Mulayam, who was in Delhi since Monday afternoon, returned to Lucknow, his close confidant Mohd Azam Khan reached the national capital and said he would do what he can to bring about a rapprochement. “Anything is possible. Who would have thought that their expulsion would be revoked,” he told reporters here, referring to Akhilesh and Ram Gopal.
A bitter critic of Mulayam’s close aide Amar Singh, Khan has maintained a neutral profile in public during the ongoing feud. After Akhilesh’s meeting with Mulayam in Lucknow during which Shivpal was also present, there was speculation about patch-up efforts.
However, a senior party leader close to Akhilesh said that “it too late. There is no scope for any settlement. EC will decide who will have SP’s cycle”. Earlier in the day, Akhilesh, who was anointed by his faction as the SP president on Sunday, reportedly spoke to Mulayam over phone.
Before the Commission proceeds to adjudicate the matter, it will ask Mulayam and Akhilesh to respond to the claims by the opposite side. The process, EC sources said, may take up to four months before a final order is issued.