Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Monday he and his son Akhilesh would “settle” their differences, blaming cousin Ramgopal, who has backed the young CM in the family feud, for the crisis.
With barely a month to go for the polls to open in Uttar Pradesh, the 77-year-old reached out to his son in the evening again, telling news agency ANI that Akhilesh would be the chief ministerial candidate of the SP.
“For the benefit of the entire state, our party stands united. There is no question of any division whatsoever… we will begin campaigning soon. Akhilesh will be the next chief minister, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
The remarks, however, are unlikely to cut ice with Akhilesh as they fail to address his demand for Amar Singh’s ouster and a greater say in the allotment of party tickets. But the biggest sticking point is Ramgopal – Mulayam wants him out but Akhilesh is unlikely to desert him.
Earlier in the day, the two factions made competing claims in front of the elections commission for the party symbol – a bicycle.
Before heading to the EC headquarters, Mulayam sent a letter to Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari, informing him about Ramgopal’s expulsion from the party and as the leader of the parliamentary party.
Akhilesh is expected to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi later this week to take the SP-Congress alliance talks forward. Mulayam, said SP sources, was not keen on the tie-up.
The SP has been battling a damaging power struggle between Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal, the younger brother of Mulayam, for months.
Matters came to a head on the New Year’s Day when Akhilesh ousted Mulayam to take over as the SP chief at an “emergency party meeting” called by Ramgopal. On Monday, Ramgopal asked the poll panel to expedite the verification of the affidavits of support submitted by their camp so that a decision on the party symbol could be taken at the earliest.
In his letter, Mulayam told EC he was the party president, asking the poll panel to verify the authenticity of the affidavits submitted by Ramgopal.
The EC passed on Mulayam’s letter to the Akhilesh camp, seeking a response.
Even as he petitioned the EC, Mulayam downplayed differences with Akhilesh.
“My son and I will settle the issue,” he said. “There is some problem in the party, one person is behind this feud; sure that issues will be resolved,” Mulayam said.
Minutes after he left, Ramgopal arrived at the poll panel’s office to submit signatures of party office-bearers in support of the party’s claim of being the “original” SP.
“We had come to the election commission to urge them to expedite the decision (on party symbol)?as nominations will start soon,” he said.
The EC will have to verify the claims of both sides. In case it doesn’t have the time to cross-check the claims, it can freeze the symbol as well as the name. The two factions will then have to pick new names and symbols.