Akhilesh camp stakes claim to ‘cycle’ symbol before EC

New Delhi: Cycle, the election symbol of Samajwadi Party, today formally came under dispute with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s camp telling the Election Commission that the party is “actually” headed by him now and not its founder Mulayam Singh.

Yesterday, Mulayam himself drove down to Nirvachan Sadan, the EC headquarters, to inform the poll watchdog that he continues to head the party and the decision to anoint his son Akhilesh as its president by the rival faction was unconstitutional as per the SP constitution.

Leaders loyal to Akhilesh — Ram Gopal Yadav, Naresh Agarwal and Kiranmoy Nanda — met the Commission this morning to stake claim over SP and its election symbol.
All three who represented Akhilesh before the poll panel stand expelled from SP by Mulayam.

“The real Samajwadi Party belongs to us as 90 per cent of the people support us,” Ram Gopal, who is Mulayam’s cousin and has sided with Akhilesh in the family feud, told reporters after meeting the Commission.

He was asked about what he conveyed to the Commission on the party and its symbol.
Now, with the rival factions staking claim over the party and its symbol, the ball is in the Commission’s court. Since the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh are set to be announced any day now, the Commission has little time to adjudicate the matter.

As an interim measure, it is now likely to freeze the cycle symbol and ask the two factions to contest on a new symbol.

It may also give the two sides a new name to contest the polls till the time a final decision is taken on the real ‘ownership’ of Samajwadi Party and its symbol ‘cycle’.
While Mulayam, who was in Delhi since yesterday afternoon, left for Lucknow, his close confidant Mohd Azam Khan reached here.

Khan said he will do what he can to bring about a rapprochement.
“Anything is possible. Who would have thought that their expulsion would be revoked,” he told reporters here.

A bitter critic of Mulayam’s close aide Amar Singh, Khan is seen as the party’s Muslim face and has maintained a neutral profile in public during the ongoing feud.

Before the Commission proceeds to adjudicate the matter, it will ask Mulayam and Akhilesh to respond to the claims by the opposite side. The process, EC sources said, may take up to four months before a final order is issued.