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Akhilesh Yadav faction of Samajwadi Party to get ‘cycle’ symbol: Election Commission

The Akhilesh faction was the Samajwadi Party and entitled to the party symbol, a bicycle, the election commission ruled Monday, dealing a huge blow to SP founder and patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav ahead of the UP election.

YadavFamilyFeud Updated: Jan 17, 2017 01:38 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
New Delhi/Lucknow
Akhilesh Yadav,Samajwadi Party,SP symbol
UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav rides a bicycle after opening the Inner Ring Road, near Agra. In a morale booster, he was allotted the SP’s bicycle symbol by the Election Commission on Monday.(PTI File Photo)

The Akhilesh faction is the Samajwadi Party and entitled to the party symbol, a bicycle, the election commission ruled Monday, dealing a huge blow to SP founder and patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav ahead of the UP election.

The faction led by Mulayam will have to go to the polls under a new name and symbol.

The decision gives a big boost to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who has prevailed after months of a bruising power struggle in the first family of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party. It will also help him forge poll alliances -- the one with Congress is expected to come through this week.

But, the fight over the bicycle could turn into a legal battle, with the 77-year-old Mulayam threatening to challenge the poll panel’s decision in court.

Read: Akhilesh wins cycle race: A timeline of the Samajwadi Party feud

“If the EC decision goes against me, I will move court,” Mulayam told party workers in Lucknow earlier in the day, responding to their slogans to save the party.

Minutes after the decision, Akhilesh visited Mulayam and later tweeted a picture of him with his father, saying “cycle will continue to move on”. But, it was not known what the two talked about.

Both the factions had petitioned the poll panel early this month, staking claim to the name and symbol.

The move came after Akhilesh ousted his father and took over as the party president on the New Year’s Day.

Read: UP election 2017: Why getting the SP ‘cycle’ is Akhilesh Yadav’s biggest victory

Announcing the decision, EC said it found the “group led by Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to its name and its reserved symbol the bicycle”.

It accepted the claims of the Akhilesh camp that 205 of the 228 party MLAs supported him. The chief minister also had the backing of 56 of 68 members of the legislative council and 15 of the 24 MPs.

He also submitted proof of a majority of national executive members and national convention delegates backing him.

“As a logical consequence of the above finding and applying the test of majority support approved by the Supreme Court”, the poll panel found the Akhilesh camp eligible for the party name and symbol.

Read: History repeating itself? Mulayam followed Lohia, Akhilesh his father

The panel said Mulayam, despite its directions, failed to furnish affidavits in support of his claim.

Mulayam, who made several attempts at peace between his warring younger brother Shivpal and son Akhilesh, seemed reconciled to a split in the party.

Speaking to party workers earlier in the day, Mulayam said, “What can I do when my son has turned against me by playing into hands of Ramgopal Yadav?”

“Look my son has gone against me. I could never imagine that Akhilesh will ever do this to me.”

Mulayam has blamed cousin Ramgopal, who has backed Akhilesh in the family feud, of playing into the hands of the BJP.

Read: Five things Akhilesh Yadav gets by winning the cycle symbol

The BJP is looking to oust the SP to make a comeback in the country’s most populous state that will vote in seven phases, beginning February 11.

Tempers ran high during Mulayam’s meeting, with workers, many of whom appeared angry, asking the former three-time chief minister to step in and avoid a split, sources said.

Mulayam shouted back, “What has happened to you all. Why are you behaving in this manner? If they (EC) doesn’t give us our symbol, then let’s see what symbol they give us.”

As restive workers kept shouting, Mulayam cut short his speech and left for his home after 30 minutes, sources said.

Read: Akhilesh gets SP symbol cycle: How it might impact Uttar Pradesh election 2017

First Published: Jan 16, 2017 18:58 IST