The Election Commission on Friday could freeze the Samajwadi Party poll symbol, the bicycle, if the warring factions decide to fight the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls separately, a ruling that could potentially impact the election results in the politically crucial state.
The poll panel is expected to take a decision by Friday afternoon on the petitions filed by the SP factions staking claim to the symbol, months after a bitter power struggle erupted in the Yadav family.
One faction is led by party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and the other by his son and chief minister Akhilesh.
Elections to the 403-member assembly will be held in seven phases beginning February 11 and the SP is expected to face a tough fight from the BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Sources said if the poll panel decides to freeze the symbol, Mulayam and Akhilesh will be asked to choose new party names and pick new symbols, a potentially damaging prospect for both factions with less than a month to go for the polls.
Both factions have submitted signed affidavits from MLAs and members of the legislative council to the poll panel. UP has a bicameral legislature.
An EC decision could also formalise the split in the party, triggered by a chain of events starting with Mulayam’s decision to appoint his brother Shivpal as the state SP president replacing Akhilesh.
There were indications that if the “bicycle” is frozen, Mulayam could adopt the Lok Dal’s symbol, a farmer ploughing the field, to contest the upcoming polls.
Mulayam– who arrived in New Delhi Wednesday night – is said to have discussed the issue with Lok Dal leader Sunil Singh on Thursday. Mulayam was earlier a member of the Lok Dal, founded by late Charan Singh in 1980, and had even contested elections as its candidate in the 1985 assembly polls.
Mulayam’s brother Ramgopal, who has backed Akhilesh in the power struggle, had indicated their faction have the support of 212 of the 229 MLAs and 56 of the 68 MLCs.
15 of the 24 MPs are also said to be backing Akhilesh, whose rebellion against Mulayam is seen as an attempt to break free from the old guard which has virtually controlled the party and the government over the years.
Ramgopal Yadav is understood to have applied for registration of a new symbol and political party with “motorcycle” as the election symbol for his ‘Akhil Bhartiya Samajwadi Party’.
On the other hand, Mulayam is likely to merge his faction with the Lok Dal and use its symbol -- two bullocks and a farmer tilling land.
Mulayam was earlier a member of the Lok Dal, founded by late Charan Singh in 1980, and had even contested elections as its candidate in the 1985 assembly polls.
Ramgopal is understood to have applied for registration of a new symbol and political party with “motorcycle” as the election symbol for his ‘Akhil Bhartiya Samajwadi Party’.
(With inputs from Lucknow bureau)