The father-son war within the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh today moved from Lucknow to Delhi where Mulayam Singh Yadav approached the Election Commission to stake claim over the 'cycle' symbol, a day after his son Akhilesh Yadav was declared the national president of the ruling party.
Akhilesh, the Chief Minister who was yesterday deposed his father from the post of national party president, is likely to meet the full three-member Election Commission tomorrow with the same claim. In his absence, the rival camp could be represented by Ram Gopal Yadav.
The Election Commission sources said the poll body was unlikely to intervene till it hears the other side.
Mulayam reached Nirvachan Sadan here this evening along with his brother Shivpal Singh, his close confidante Amar Singh and former MP Jaya Prada to put forth his stand on the feud which has virtually split the party he had founded 25 years ago.
"I am still the president of Samajwadi Party and the decision of the rival camp to appoint Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party chief is against party's constitution," Mulayam told the full Election Commission.
Claiming to have the backing of the SP Parliamentary Baord, he said the party symbol 'cycle' belongs to him as he is the party president, sources said.
Mulayam told the Commission that Ram Gopal Yadav, who had moved a resolution at emergency convention of SP in Lucknow on Friday last anointing Akhilesh as party president, had been expelled from the party and was not authorised to take any decision regarding SP, the sources said.
Mulayam said the convention of the rival camp, which passed a resolution to anoint Akhilesh as the new party chief, passed no resolution removing him (Mulayam) from the post.
He said as per the SP's constitution, such a decision needs the backing of the Parliamentary Board, which was absent.
Earlier in the day, Mulayam declared that the “cycle” symbol was his signature.
"The Samajwadi Party's election symbol is my signature," said Mulayam, indicating he wasn't going to let go of it easily.
Sources in the Commission said it will follow Paragraph 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to proceed on the dispute. It gives power to the Commission "in relation to splinter groups or rival sections of a recognised political party".
"Both the sides will have to stake claim over the symbol otherwise how would EC know that there is a dispute...we don't go by media reports," said an EC official.
The Commission could ask both sides to pick a new party name and symbol in the interim if the existing symbol 'cycle' is frozen.
According to EC sources, if the elections are imminent, then the poll body does not have the time to verify the legislative majority of both factions. In that 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 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 with the symbol 'kite' as the new name and symbol for the faction led by Diwakar Bhatt.
Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi was also of the view that neither faction of the SP may get the symbol before the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh as the procedure in such cases takes quite long.
In his excerpt with a news channel, Quraishi hinted that neither faction of the SP may get the symbol as the procedure in such cases takes quite long.
"Both sides will give affidavits and evidence in support of their claims along with signatures of their supporters to prove they enjoy majority support," Quraishi said.
"These will be verified and this may take four to five months. I don't see this happening before the elections as both sides have strong base and the claims will be contested strongly," he said.
"The (election) symbol will be frozen and ad-hoc names and ad-hoc symbols may be given to both sides. A final decision will come after due process in due course of time," he added.
Earlier in the day, Mulayam asserted in Lucknow that "Cycle symbol is ours."
He asked party cadres to focus on winning the assembly elections likely to be announced any day now.
"No one can accuse me of wrongdoing. I have never indulged in corruption or betrayed anyone," he said.
He, however, postponed the SP convention which he had called in Luckonw on January 5.
In a series of tweets, SP leader Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, maintained that Mulayam is the SP national president even now.
Shivpal gave no reasons for the abrupt postponement of the party convention, but insiders said perhaps the Mulayam camp was apprehensive of a poor turnout compared to the massive gathering at the "convention" held by Ram Gopal Yadav yesterday. The convention was declared illegal and unconstitutional by Mulayam.
The Samajwadi Party yesterday split down the middle with the faction headed by Chief Minister Akhilesh removing Mulayam as party chief and appointing him in his place at a convention in which the group claimed support of the majority of legislators and district units.
The two sides had engaged in mutual recriminatory expulsions with the convention called by Ram Gopal removing Akhilesh's warring uncle Shivpal as state party chief, and showing the door to "outsider" Amar Singh, who has been blamed for the feud in the Yadav clan.
Mulayam had retorted by again expelling his cousin Ram Gopal for six years along with national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda, who chaired the convention, and general secretary Naresh Agarwal for taking part in it.
Amar and Shivpal this morning reached Delhi to fine tune the strategy to ensure that the symbol remains with Mulayam ahead of assembly polls in the state.
(With PTI inputs)