The Election Commission of India has initiated the process for the two warring factions of Samajwadi Party (SP) — led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, respectively — to prove their majority, even as SP leaders from either camps made last-ditch efforts on Wednesday to save the party from splitting.
The Commission on Wednesday evening wrote to both factions asking for a show of strength among party delegates and MLAs, MPs and MLCs through “signed affidavits”. The EC is also learnt to have sought comments from the two camps to each other’s representations received by the poll panel this week.
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“The EC has given them time until January 9 to respond,” said an official who did not wish to be identified. The poll panel moved swiftly on the SP feud as the election dates to five states, including Uttar Pradesh, were announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The test of majority has been the standard practice adopted by the EC to gauge the strength of rival groups within a political party. It was used to decide the the first split in the Congress party in 1969 and the practice has served the Commission well ever since.
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According to sources, the dossier submitted by Ram Gopal Yadav to the EC on Tuesday evening is a detailed one and runs into hundreds of pages. It claims that Akhilesh’s camp is the real Samajwadi Party and that the CM has the support of the majority of the party delegates and elected representatives to the Parliament and legislature. The dossier carries signatures of support from over 5,000 party delegates and over 90 per cent of party MLCs, MLAs and MPs. On the other hand, the representation of the Mulayam camp is brief.
Although the Akhilesh faction has submitted signatures of supporters, the EC prefers signed affidavits. “This is the only way the EC can reliably test the majority of either side,” the official added. Whichever side can prove a majority will be allowed to keep SP’s election symbol, the cycle.
The war over the cycle reached the EC doorstep on Monday when Mulayam along with colleagues Amar Singh, Jaya Prada, Shivpal Singh Yadav met Election Commissioners Nasim Zaidi, O P Rawat and A K Joti claiming that Sunday’s convention, in which Akhilesh was elected as the party president, was illegal and that Ramgopal Yadav has been expelled from the party.
Subsequently, Ramgopal Yadav met the Commission on Tuesday morning on behalf of Akhilesh and staked claim to the party and its election symbol.
The EC can also conduct hearings on the matter which could take up to six months. In such case, it will freeze the ‘cycle’ symbol and, in an interim measure, provide ad-hoc recognition to the two rival groups under names similar to the parent party.