Mulayam Singh Yadav is expected to visit the Election Commission in Delhi a little after noon today to stake claim to the “cycle,” the election symbol of the Samajwadi Party that he founded 25 years ago. His son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has challenged him both for the symbol and the post of party chief and has claimed before the Election Commission the support of over 200 of 229 Samajwadi Party lawmakers in the state. “I am still the boss,” asserted Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday, after meeting his supporters, a dwindling group in the Samajwadi Party.
On Saturday, Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle and chief aide Ram Gopal Yadav carried to the Election Commission six boxes of documents to prove that the UP chief minister now heads the state’s ruling party, having been named party president in place of his father at a meeting attended by most Samajwadi Party MLAs, other leaders and about 5,000 workers on January 1.
At his short press conference on Sunday, Mulayam Singh indicated his strategy in the absence of numbers to back him – he does not acknowledge that the party has split, and insists that he continues to head it. “I am the national president, Akhilesh Yadav is the chief minister, Shivpal Yadav is the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit,” Mulayam Singh said, reiterating that the meeting that saw his son being named party president was illegal as it was called by Ram Gopal Yadav, expelled a day before by him from the Samajwadi Party.
At Mulayam Singh’s Delhi home, Ram Gopal Yadav’s face has been torn out of a party poster that features the rest of the leaders – including Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh.
Politician Amar Singh – who along with Mulayam Singh’s brother Shivpal Yadav is blamed by Akhilesh Yadav for his break-up with his father – first alleged that the documents handed to the Election Commission are forged and then reached out to the Chief Minister, offering to quit the party to avoid a split. “I will step aside and Shivpal won’t contest. What more do you want?” he said.
“The majority is with Akhilesh Yadav. The symbol will go to whoever has numbers,” Ram Gopal Yadav has said, ruling out a rapprochement.
While Akhilesh Yadav is believed to have indicated his willingness to contest on another symbol, his faction wants the “cycle” with potential partner Congress keen on him retaining it. Elections will be held in seven phases in UP starting February 11, which leaves little time for either faction to popularise a new symbol with voters.
If the Election Commission is not convinced by the claim of either side, it could today freeze the “cycle” and allot new symbols to both factions.