The Election Commission will decide on Friday which faction of the Samajwadi Party (SP) is the rightful claimant to the party’s poll symbol, bicycle, a ruling that could potentially have far-reaching bearings on the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls next month.
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).
Both SP camps, one led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and the other by his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, have petitioned the poll panel staking claimed on the symbol.
An EC decision could also formalise the split in the ruling party which has been torn apart by a bitter power struggle in the Yadav family – father against son and brother fighting brother.
Both factions have submitted signed affidavits from MLAs and members of the legislative council to the poll panel. UP has a bicameral legislature.
Mulayam’s brother Ramgopal Yadav, 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.
Goodbye bicycle, here comes the motorcycle
Sources said there was a possibility of the bicycle being frozen and both sides asked to pick new symbols.
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.