With both factions of the Samajwadi Party - each led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav - claiming the 'cycle' symbol, it increasingly appears that the election symbol of 25 long years may get frozen.
Election Commission sources told IANS that it was studying the constitutional and legal position on the claims of the factions led by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam.
The Commission on Tuesday fixed January 13 as the date of hearing the factions to settle the dispute over control of the party and its election symbol, 'cycle'.
Chances are that the process will not be completed before January 17, when the nominations for the first phase of the staggered Assembly elections begin.
"With huge volumes of proof and evidence given by the Akhilesh camp, the process has become protracted and will take more than a month to go through each and every aspect," said an official.
The Commission, sources said, will have to decide on who commands the majority in SP before January 17 when the notification for the first phase of assembly polls is issued.
While Mulayam met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Monday to present his side on the claim over 'cycle', his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, representing Akhilesh, met Election Commission officials later seeking an early decision on the disputed party symbol.
Ram Gopal had on Saturday carried to the Election Commission six boxes of documents to prove that the UP chief minister now heads the state's ruling party, having been named party president in place of his father at a meeting attended by most Samajwadi Party MLAs, other leaders and about 5,000 workers on January 1.
He claimed that the papers number over 1.5 lakh pages and carry signatures of over 200 MLAs, 56 of the 68 MLCs, 15 of the 24 MPs and nearly 4600 of over 5000 delegates of Samajwadi Party supporting Akhilesh.
Ram Gopal approached the EC today and urged it to take an early decision on the disputed symbol "Cycle" because the nomination process for the Uttar Pradesh elections will commence from January 17.
Ram Gopal was accompanied by party MPs Naresh Agarwal and Neeraj Shekhar.
On the other hand, Mulayam asserted that he remains Samajwadi Party president and told the Election Commission that the convention called by Akhilesh camp was "unconstitutional" and that the party's electoral symbol of 'cycle' should remain with his camp.
Accompanied by his loyalists Amar Singh and Shivpal Singh Yadav, Mulayam also contested the affidavits of party leaders submitted by the party faction owing allegiance to his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, alleging they were forged and asked the EC to get them verified.
Party sources said he also told the EC that Ram Gopal Yadav, who had called the convention in which Akhilesh was made the party president, was expelled from the outfit before that and, therefore, the meeting was unconstitutional as per SP's constitution.
He also said that while there was a resolution appointing Akhilesh as party president and another one appointing him as its mentor, there was no resolution removing him from the party chief's post.
The election for phase one in Uttar Pradesh is on February 2. With the notification, the process of filing nominations will begin. Candidates from Mulayam and Akhilesh camps cannot fight election on cycle symbol at the same time, therefore, the EC will have to take a call on the issue before that date.
"These will be days of fast-paced developments. January 17 is still far...yes, if both sides claim support of equal number of legislators and office bearers and EC is unable to take a final decision, an interim order can be passed ... freezing the symbol is one such option available," a source said.
Another source said if the two sides are willing to settle issue fast, EC can arrive at a conclusion before January 17.
According to the sources, if elections are imminent, then the poll body does not have the time to verify the legislative majority of both factions. In such a situation, it can pass an interim order asking both sides to pick a new party name and symbol.
This happened in the case of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, a recognised state party in 2011. Both factions laid claim to the symbol 'chair'.
The poll panel had then approved Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) with the symbol 'cup and saucer' for one group led by Trivender Singh Pawar and Jantantrik Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and 'kite' as the new name and symbol for the faction led by Diwakar Bhatt.