Pari'war' in Samajwadi Party: Mulayam reaches EC as opposing camps spar over 'cycle' symbol

The 'pari-war' reached a fever pitch on Monday, as Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav reached the Election Commission of India office in New Delhi in a bid to claim the 'cycle' symbol. He was accompanied by his brother Shivpal Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh and actress-turned politician Jaya Prada.

A day after being dethroned as the Samajwadi Party national president by his warring son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh insisted the party belonged to him and declared the action against him unconstitutional.

"Samajwadi Party's election symbol is my signature," he said in Lucknow.

The move comes after the party's being effectively broken into two opposing factions: One led by Mulayam and Shivpal, and another by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The Akhilesh camp, on their part, claimed support of the majority of the SP cadres as well as the MLAs.

Akhilesh camp member and former general secretary of the party Ram Gopal Yadav will meet Election Commission officials on Tuesday, ANI reported.

The meeting lasted around 30 minutes where Mulayam Singh, as the party founder, is said to have asserted his right over the election symbol. While Mulayam Singh and his aides were tight-lipped about the meeting, informed sources said he discussed party constitution with Zaidi, claiming he was still the party president.

Mulayam Singh is also said to have argued that the convention called in Lucknow by Akhilesh supporters violated the party rules and hence anything that happened at the meeting was invalid. He also cancelled a national convention called by him on 5 January.

Meanwhile, the Akhilesh camp will be sending its General Secretary-turned-mentor Ram Gopal Yadav as its emissary to the poll panel on Tuesday. Mulayam confidant Amar Singh appeared unfazed by his "expulsion" from the party by Akhilesh Yadav and insisted his allegiance to Mulayam Singh.

"I was with Mulayam and will remain with him. My association with him made me a hero and if needed I can become a villian also," he said.

Amid the tug of war between the father and son, a group of party activists gathered outside Mulayam Singh's residence in Lucknow, raised slogans in his support and sought unification of the party. The supporters, however, did not raise slogans against Akhilesh Yadav or Ram Gopal Yadav. Instead, they urged Mulayam Singh to make Akhilesh Yadav the face of the election campaign.

File image of Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

File image of Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

According to constitutional experts, 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. At a convention held in Lucknow on Sunday, Akhilesh Yadav annointed himself the Samajwadi Party President and said Mulayam Singh would remain a "Marg Darshak".

The Akhilesh camp also named a new state unit chief in place of Shivpal Yadav and sacked Amar Singh, who the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has repeatedly dubbed a "dalal". The open rebellion prompted Mulayam Singh to again sack Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi Party. Both Ram Gopal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav had been sacked on Friday too but were taken back a day later.

Later on Sunday, after a brief but heated exchange between Mulayam, Shivpal and Akhilesh supporters, dozens of youth leaders and party activists owing allegiance to the 43-year-old chief minister stormed the party headquarters at Vikramaditya Marg and took control.

Meanwhile, a group of Samajwadi Party activists on Monday gathered outside Mulayam's residence, raised slogans in his support and sought unification of the party.

Around 50 supporters, most from Badaun and neighbouring Ghaziabad, gathered as Mulayam sat in a meeting with Shivpal and Amar Singh before going to meet the Election Commission over the party symbol.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 10:45 AM

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