The decision of Mulayam Singh Yadav not to dispute the numerical strength claimed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav while staking claim over Samajwadi Party and its ‘cycle’ symbol enabled the Election Commission deliver the final verdict in the case after a single hearing. On January 16, the Commission gave the symbol ‘Bicycle’ to the faction headed by Akhilesh Yadav, recognising it as the Samajwadi Party that came as a major boost to the Chief Minister ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
During the nearly four-and-a-half hour long hearing on January 13 before the Commission, the Akhilesh camp claimed he has the majority support of MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates, therefore, the symbol should be given to him.
The Mulayam faction, on the other hand, maintained that there is no dispute in the party and its not been split into Samajwadi Party (Mulayam) or Samajwadi Party (Akhilesh).
It, however, did not dispute the affidavits tendered by Akhilesh to buttress his claim.
Asked how the Commission verified the affidavits filed by Akhilesh, a source privy to the proceedings said the onus of disputing lies with the opposite side and not the poll panel.
“Why should the Commission dispute it on behalf of the opposite party…why should the Commission disbelieve the affidavit. Even in a regular court, disputing authenticity is the job of the opposite side,” the source said.
The Commission performs the role of a quasi-judicial body while deciding on such disputes.
The Commission also went by past precedents when it had based its judgements on numerical strength as directed by the Supreme Court in a 1972 verdict.
“…A mere look at the figures…will evidently demonstrate that Akhilesh Yadav enjoys overwhelming majority support, both among the legislative and organisational wing of the party.
“As a logical consequence of the above finding and applying the test of majority support approved by the Supreme Court in the case of Sadiq Ali and consistently applied by the Commission thereafter in all cases of disputes in recognised political parties arising before it from time to time…the group led by Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol Bicycle…,” the 42-page order of the EC said.
Rejecting the stand of the Mulayam Singh Yadav camp, the Election Commission said there is a clear split in the party.
“…The Commission is satisfied that a split has arisen in the Samajwadi Party resulting in the formation of two rival groups — one, led by Akhilesh Yadav and the, other, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, each claiming to be that party, and, therefore, the matter needed to be determined by the Commission under para 15 of the Symbols Order,” the poll panel said.
It said 205 of the 228 MLAs, 56 of the 68 MLCs, 15 of the 24 MPs and 28 of the 46 National Executive members have sided with Akhilesh.
Also, 4400 of the 5731 National Convention delegates have signed in favour of the Chief Minister, the order said.