UP election: After Mulayam, son Akhilesh's camp stakes claim to Samajwadi Party & symbol

Mulayam submitted a one-page memorandum staking his claim to the party and its symbol but he did not file an affidavit, giving rise to the suspicion that talk of a split in the party may be untrue. Photograph:( AFP )

DNA New Delhi, India Jan 03, 2017, 03.45 AM (IST)

The party led by Akhilesh Yadav -- the Uttar Pradesh chief minister -- is the real Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh's uncle and mentor Ram Gopal Yadav told the election commission (EC) on Tuesday. 

Ram Gopal added that 90 per cent of the party's members were with Akhilesh.  

Even as Akhilesh met Mulayam Singh at his home in Lucknow, Ramgopal Yadav said no compromise would be made within the warring factions.

"No compromise is being made in the SP. Both sides have kept their facts before the Election Commission. Akhilesh Yadav is the party's national president and we will fight elections under his leadership. The Election Commission will decide over election symbol," Ramgopal Yadav told ANI.

The bitter battle between Akhilesh and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav -- who until now has been the party's supremo -- had reached the election commission on Monday with Mulayam staking claim to the party and its election symbol the bicycle, which has high recall value.

Sources in the EC said Mulayam Singh conveyed, emphatically, to the EC that he was still president of the party and that the election symbol belonged to him.

Mulayam also said that the resolutions passed at the party convention called by party general secretary and convenor Ram Gopal Yadav -- his cousin -- on Sunday were illegal since he had already been expelled from the party.

Mulayam did not however file an affidavit -- which is needed to stake claim to the symbol -- although he did submit a one-page memorandum staking claim to the party and its symbol.

That has given rise to the suspicion that talk of a split in the party may turn out to be untrue, since one never knows the wily Mulayam's gameplan.

Mulayam went to the EC along with brother Shivpal, Amar Singh, and Jaya Prada. He refused to meet the waiting media.

The EC is expected to take a decision on the matter after hearing out the Akhilesh faction.

Ram Gopal, who was the architect of Sunday's coup, presented Akhilesh Yadav's claim to the party and its symbol to the EC on Tuesay.

He was expected to present all documents from Sunday's convention to prove Akhilesh is the de jure head of the SP since he enjoys the support of the majority of its elected representatives.

Sources in the EC said that in such a scenario -- of a split in the party and a claim and counter claim on the bicycle symbol -- the symbol may be frozen by the commission -- thereby disallowing either side from using it -- until it decides the case, which may take several months.

Such a "freeze" would make campaigning harder for both sides. 

"The full commission will take a decision on the symbol after diligently considering all past cases of such splits like Congress split into Congress O and Congress I and the split in AIADMK in late 1980s," an election commission official said.

Interestingly, in the EC's records, the ownership of the symbol lies with Mulayam Singh since it was he who filed the original documents when the Samajwadi Party was founded.

In case the bicycle is frozen as a symbol, the EC will make both warring factions choose from an inventory of over 1,000 symbols for the purpose of elections -- Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls early tis year -- until the commission decides who the legitimate owner of the bicycle symbol is.

The split may force the warring factions to use the name Samajwadi Party's with suffixes like SP - M (Mulayam) and SP - A (Akhilesh).

But the bitter fight, only a few days before the declaration of the elections, is expected to jeopardise the campaigning of both factions.

(This article first appeared in DNA)