EC to decide on Samajwadi Party symbol today: Mulayam Singh Yadav ready with Plan B, but will he need it?

After hearing both the factions of Samajwadi Party last Friday, the election watchdog on Friday will take a final decision on who finally gets the cycle symbol of the ruling party. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the embattled leader of SP Mulayam Singh Yadav have been caught in a tug of war over the party symbol - the cycle - founded by Mulayam 25 years ago. Akhilesh has already challenged Mulayam for the symbol and the post of the party chief. Akhilesh, backed by his uncle and Mulayam's cousin Ram Gopal Yadav told the Election Commission, earlier this week, (before the dates for the elections were announced) that they had the support of over 200 of 229 SP lawmakers in the state.

Attempts at striking some sort of a patch-up or compromise between the warring factions of the ruling SP having almost failed, both sides are now reconciled to a future of walking alone. Sources say that the factions of Mulayam and Akhilesh are bracing for "any eventuality", particularly in a situation where the Election Commission freezes the party's cycle symbol. While political and constitutional experts strongly feel that Mulayam is better placed in his claim for the symbol and that he is likely to get it since the SP Constitution clearly spells out in Section 14, that only the national president can call a convention, the numbers — both of the lawmakers in the state assembly and party delegates — seem to be stacked in Akhilesh's favour.

Constitutional experts also feel that in all likelihood, the poll panel could freeze the party symbol and allot new symbols to both the factions to contest the assembly elections scheduled this year. This might come as a blow to both sides as the symbol "cycle" is a well established brand. However, Mulayam has a Plan B. Given the political situation, NDTV India reported that Mulayam might go with the party symbol of the Lok Dal party – "a farmer ploughing the field".

 EC to decide on Samajwadi Party symbol today: Mulayam Singh Yadav ready with Plan B, but will he need it?

Embattled Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

The Lok Dal on Thursday offered its symbol to Mulayam to contest the Uttar Pradesh elections in case the ‘cycle’ symbol is frozen by the Election Commission due to feud in the party. Lok Dal is a registered, unrecognised party. Mulayam had left Lok Dal around 37 years ago. He had served as state president of Lok Dal, the party founded by his mentor Chaudhary Charan Singh in 1980. It had recognition as a national party in 1977 when Mulayam was elected MLA from Jaswantnagar constituency in Etawah on its symbol. Mulayam had contested the 1985 Assembly polls on the Lok Dal's symbol as its state unit president. The Lok Dal had then won 87 seats and Mulayam was made the Leader of Opposition in the assembly.

The SP's Amar Singh and Shivpal Singh Yadav have already held parleys with the Lok Dal leadership and the two sides have reportedly been engaged in talks on a larger canvas, a source confirmed to IANS. Chowdhary Sunil Singh, the national president of Lok Dal, confirmed that the SP leaders who were in contact said that he would be more than happy to accommodate Mulayam Singh Yadav in the party fold if the situation so arose.

"Mulayam Singh ji is one of the founder members of the Lok Dal and also the flag bearer of the legacy of Charan Singh. It is sad that his very own son and party men have treated him so shabbily. We are more than happy to have Neta ji amid us, if it so happens" Singh told IANS.

"I met Mulayam Singh and offered him to contest the elections on our symbol in case the cycle symbol is frozen. But he is hopeful that the feud will be settled and the symbol would not be frozen," Singh told PTI after the meeting on Thursday. Asked whether he discussed any modalities with Yadav, Singh said Mulayam is a senior socialist leader and he is free to be the party president.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Singh said, "Mulayam Singh had been founder member of Lok Dal and if he associates himself with Lok Dal, party will be strengthened and may get re-established as a national party once again under the leadership of Mulayam Singh ji. I have offered post of party national president to Mulayam Singh ji. His presence will strengthen Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and various other states."

The side which has the support of majority (50 percent plus 1) of MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates will gain an upper hand in the fight to control the SP. Candidates from Mulayam and Akhilesh camps cannot fight election on 'cycle' symbol at the same time, therefore, the EC will have to take a call on the issue before the filing of nominations begins.

In 2012, Lok Dal had contested on 90 seats and had lost badly on all seats. In 2007, the party had lost all 76 seats it contested on and in 2017 elections, Lok Dal has so far declared 18 candidates. The party on its website says that it was "structured by former prime ministrer Chaudhary Charan Singh and prominent political leaders including Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, Devi Lal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Karpuri Thakur, Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan" had been associated with the party in the past.

Mulayam was upstaged by his estranged cousin and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav and son on 1 January in a coup of sorts at a convention and Akhilesh was anointed the new boss. He has, since then, termed the convention both illegal and unconstitutional and has refused to accept any resolution it passed. in that convention. The convention had, by a voice vote, removed Mulayam as the national president, appointed him a mentor, elevated Akhilesh as the new party chief, expelled Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh from the party for six years and sacked Shivpal.

Six rounds of talks between the warring factions have failed and a resigned-to-fate Mulayam has made it amply clear that talks of bringing them together have failed. He also accused Ram Gopal of moving ahead to split SP to see his MP son and daughter-in-law saved from the CBI which is probing their link in the multi-crore Yadav Singh scam.

Yadav Singh was the chief engineer of Noida Authority and son and daughter-in-law of Ram Gopal Yadav were on the board of directors of one of the front shell companies the tainted engineer had floated. Mulayam Singh Yadav has also alleged that his cousin has held four meetings with BJP president Amit Shah to save his son, in return for which he will engineer a split in the SP. Mulayam Singh Yadav has, however, declared that he will not let the split happen, nor will he surrender the party symbol.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 13:02:06 IST