Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday won the Samajwadi Party symbol the cycle from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav as the Election Commission assigned the popular emblem to him. The Election Commission said the group led by Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and thus entitled to use the ‘Bicycle’ symbol. The EC decision could be a big setback for the 77-year-old Mulayam Singh Yadav who founded the party 25 years ago. Mulayam had earlier said he will accept whatever decision the Election Commission takes on the contentious poll symbol issue.
The faction war in the ruling Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh had reached the Election Commission with Mulayam Singh Yadav staking claim over the ‘cycle’ symbol after he was deposed from the post of president by the group headed by his son Akhilesh Yadav on January 2. The faction headed by Akhilesh too approached the EC to assert their right over the symbol, which is crucial for the upcoming Assembly elections.
Ram Gopal Yadav, who was representing Akhilesh’s faction expressed satisfaction over the EC’s decision. “It was the toughest fight of my political career. I am happy that the election Commission decided in our favour. We now want to win the elections,” said Ram Gopal Yadav.
साइकिल चलती जायेगी…आगे बढ़ती जायेगी… pic.twitter.com/DjFzr2DtrK
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 16, 2017
The Commission noted that Akhilesh’s faction had filed the affidavits of 205 of the 228 MLAs, 56 out of 68 MLCs, 15 out of 24 MPs, 28 out of 46 National Executive members and 4400 out of 5731 National Convention delegates which accounted for total delegates of 4716 out of 5731.
The order said Mulayam Singh’s side did not file any affidavit of MPs or MLAs or any delegates claiming allegiance to it with the SP supremo maintaining that there was no split in the party needing determination of a dispute.
The Commission referred to a contention by Mulayam’s side that the affidavits filed by Akhilesh’s group do not contain averment that they were sworn without any fear, favour or influence as needed and said except for the “above vague allegation”, the group did not file any affidavit from any member despite repeated opportunities given to it.
“… Neither filed any affidavit from any member nor indicated even the name of one member whose affidavit was considered by him to be suspect or questioned the above numbers claimed by Shri Ram Gopal Yadav either on 13 January, 2017 at the time of hearing or at any time thereafter,” the order said.
It also mentioned that while the counsel for the Mulayam group wanted to make a mountain of a molehill by referring to a typographical mistake in the affidavits of the Akhilesh group, the counsel had no reply when it was pointed out that its leader Amar Singh had said in the concluding para of his affidavit that “I refute my point on the illegibility of January 1, 2017 convention of Samajwadi Party and unconstitutionality of their resolution thereby.
The seven-phased polls in the state begin on February 11. The order came within a fortnight of Akhilesh being anointed the national president of the party.
A jubilant Ramgopal Yadav said the EC took the right decision as the Mulayam camp did not have any supporting documents to claim symbol and party name. “The Chief Minister is very happy,” he said.
About party’s plans for an alliance with Congress in the state for the coming elections, he said, “The party president will be deciding it. I hope it will happen.” As soon as he got the news, Akhilesh went to meet his father to seek his blessings.
Interestingly, the EC announcement came hours after Akhilesh supporters put up his brand new name plate at the SP headquarters that read “Akhilesh Yadav, Party President” strategically positioned directly under his father’s nameplate which mentions Mulayam as “Party President”.
Congress hailed as “judicious” the Election Commission’s decision to grant the ‘Bicycle’ symbol to the Akhilesh Yadav faction of the Samajwadi Party. “We congratulate Akhilesh on being allotted the cycle symbol. Election Commission has taken a judicious decision in record time,” Congress spokesman R P N Singh said, adding the UP Chief Minister had 90 per cent of the party including legislators on his side.
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav too lauded the EC decision and asked Mulayam to bless his son. “I congratulate Akhilesh Yadav; would appeal Netaji to give his blessings to Akhilesh, this is country’s election not just UP,” said Lalu Prasad Yadav.
(With inputs from agencies)