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Samajwadi Party feud: Election Commission reserves order on party symbol

The Election Commission of India is all set to hear the Samajwadi Party's warring factions led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav to settle the dispute over control of the party and its election symbol of ‘cycle’.
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi January 13, 2017 18:58 IST
India TV Politics Desk

After over four hours of deliberation with leaders of both factions of Samajwadi Party, the election commission of India has reserved its order over the ownership of the party symbol.

Earlier today Samajwadi Party's warring factions of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav's representatives reached the EC's office today to settle the dispute over control of the party and its election symbol of ‘cycle’.

This is how the events transpired through the day.

Mulayam along with his younger brother Shivpal Yadav reached the poll watchdog’s office. Mulayam’s team was represented by eminent lawyer Mohan Prasaran.

Around  the same time, leaders of the Akhilesh faction including Ram Gopal Yadav, Naresh Aggrawal, Surendra Nagar, Abhishek Mishra, Javed Ali Khan and Kironmayi Nanda also arrived.

Naresh Aggrawal and Surendra Nagar bowed to pay respect to the party founder. Mulayam responded to them. Then Ram Gopal Yadav also wished to the opposite faction, however, senior Yadav chose to ignore him. Akhilesh was represented by a battery of lawyers including Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Dhawan and Devedra Updhayay.

The proceedings that began at the Election Commission’s office at 11: 50 am were very similar to that of a courtroom. 

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi sat in the centre, while his deputies OP Rawat and AK Joti took their seats to his left and right respectively. While Mulayam and Shivpal sat in front of Joti on the left side, the other faction took the right flank. 

In the front row, Netajee was seated with the senior advocate while the junior counsels stood in subsequent rows.

As the proceedings began, Akhilesh’s counsel Kapil Sibal told the commission that an overwhelming majority in the party support Akhilesh and their signatures of support have been submitted to the panel. Sibal argued that the entire process of Akhilesh’s elevation to the post of party president was carried out in line with the party’s constitution and the party symbol should also belong to him.

Sibal’s arguments went on for about two hours where he put forth the stand of Akhilesh. The meeting took a break for lunch and reconvened at 3 PM when Mulayam’s counsel put forth the other side of the argument. 

Mulayam's counsel MC Dhingra said after the hearing that the documents submitted by the Akhilesh faction before the EC contains affidavits of some leadfers who are either dead or in coma. The lawyers also argued that the Akhilesh has not made any legal representation to prove that there is a split in the party.

"The affidavits filed on behalf of Akhilesh are fake. They (Akhilesh's counsels) are unable to even verify them. We have shown how they have collated a set of complete falsehoods.

"Their affidavits are a cut and paste job. Error in one affidavit is also present in all the others," Dhingra said after the hearing, adding that there was uncertainty on when the decision would come. "It could tomorrow or on Monday, we don't know."    

The Mulayam camp also claimed that the convention in which Akhilesh was anointed as the party chief was against the SP constitution.

The EC, after hearing both sides, reserved its order on the matter. January 17 is the deadline for filing of nomination papers and it appears unlikely that the deadlock will end by then. 

The 'cycle' symbol could be frozen before the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh if the Election Commission is not able to decide which of the two factions commands the majority in the organisation.

Both factions, who would then have to contest the elections on separate symbols, are also believed to have readied a Plan B that could see the Akhilesh faction uniting with the Congress.

Congress has already expressed its interest in aligning with Akhilesh though it was said to be waiting for the EC’s clarity on the matter.