UP Election 2017: Amid battle for 'cycle', will real Samajwadi Party please stand up?

"I am the national president of Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh," embattled patriarch of the ruling party Mulayam Singh Yadav asserted on Sunday.

Mulayam, along with his brother and most-trusted lieutenant, Shivpal Yadav, and Amar Singh met with the Election Commission in Delhi to stake claim to the "cycle," the symbol of the Samajwadi Party that he founded 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 EC (before the dates for the elections were announced) that the they had the support of over 200 of 229 Samajwadi Party lawmakers in the state. The chief minister is in Delhi as well to meet with the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi. Interestingly, this is the first time that Akhilesh is personally visiting the EC over the symbol war.

Meanwhile, Mulayam sought Vice-President Hamid Ansari's interference in the ongoing party war. Mulayam has asked Ansari, who is also the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, to expel Ram Gopal from the Upper House. Ram Gopal is the party's Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. ANI reported that that the letter was received and Mulayam's request will be duly examined. Attacking the former general secretary of the party, Mulayam reiterated that he had no problems with the chief minister. The statement came even as the two leaders are warring over the party symbol.

But Mulayam is expected to challenge the rival camp's claim and request the poll panel to check the "authenticity and legality" of the documents. His long-time friend and party's Rajya Sabha MP, Amar Singh, said the signatures of support were "forged and their authenticity is doubtful".

Not taking any names, Mulayam said that there was only one person behind all the problems in the party — he meant Ram Gopal. The expelled leader said that he won't comment on anything that "Netaji says."

Emboldened after the meeting with EC on Monday, Mulayam even said that he "will fix everything". The war of words escalated on Sunday as questions over the "real SP" were raised.

As questions were raised over the authenticity of proofs submitted to the EC by the Akhilesh camp, Ram Gopal told ANI that the "real SP had submitted proofs along with the affidavits to EC" and that "the proofs were also sent to Netaji but he didn't receive them".

Mulayam had reiterated the fact that former general secretary Ram Gopal had been expelled from the party for six years on 30 December and had lost his prerogative to call the 1 January national convention, which saw Mulayam dislodged as the party president.

Despite the apparent clarifications issued by Mulayam, the many twists and turns of the SP feud are far from culminating any time soon.

The Sunday's press conference and the preceding developments from the day also saw another interesting development in the form of the return of "outsider" (Amar Singh) to the fore, who had so far maintained a distance from the ongoing rift stating it was an "internal matter of the family." Singh was formally appointed party general secretary of the cleaving party only two days ago.

The Yadav Pari-'war' saga seems to have reached a climax with both factions pitted against each other to claim stake at the electoral symbol of the party, and with that over an undisputed claim on the party's throne.

Even as the party patriarch claimed that there was "no dispute" in his party, he conceded amid party workers that Akhilesh has indeed rebelled against him. According to quotes accessed by CNN-News18, Mulayam in a heart-felt speech said, "He has turned a rebel, but he is my son... What can I do if he is stubborn?" An emotional Mulayam also reportedly said that he will "let Akhilesh do whatever he wants", as he tried to reassure the SP cadres that "things will get better in the party," as quoted by Times Now.

With less than a month to go for the crucial Assembly elections, it is safe to say that the fate of the ruling party hangs by a bicycle. The feud may help Akhilesh cover the failures of his government on the growth, employment and law and order fronts by claiming that he was not allowed to work by those elements from whom he has now distanced himself. And Mulayam, by proclaiming that he is the party president and Akhilesh is the chief minister, may have apparently tried to strengthen this perception by appearing to reassure the SP supporters — especially Yadavs and Muslims — that he was behind his son.

However, the public sees everything and this double-speak and in some cases just blatant infighting can cost Mulayam's beloved Samajwadi Party a lot.

Updated Date: Jan 09, 2017 15:45:29 IST