The faction war in the ruling Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh on Monday reached the Election Commission with Mulayam Singh Yadav staking claim over the 'cycle' symbol, a day after he was deposed from the post of president by the group headed by his son Akhilesh Yadav.
At the same time, Mulayam cancelled the January 5 party convention called by him, apparently on fears that there could be a low turnout compared to the convention held by his son in Lucknow on Sunday.
The faction headed by Akhilesh, the chief minister, will also approach the EC on Tuesday to assert their right over the symbol, which is crucial for the upcoming assembly elections. Ramgopal Yadav is likely to represent the faction.
Election Commission sources said it is unlikely to intervene till it hears both the sides.
Mulayam reached Nirvachan Sadan on Monday evening along with his brother Shivpal Singh, his close confidante Amar Singh and former MP Jaya Prada to put forth his stand on the feud which has virtually split the party he had founded 25 years ago.
"I am still the president of Samajwadi Party and the decision of the rival camp to appoint Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party chief is against party's constitution," Mulayam told to the Election Commission.
Claiming to have the backing of the SP Parliamentary Baord, he said the party symbol 'cycle' belongs to him as he is the party president, sources said.
Mulayam told the commission that Ramgopal Yadav, who had moved a resolution at emergency convention of the SP in Lucknow on Sunday anointing Akhilesh as party president, had been expelled from the party and was not authorised to take any decision regarding the SP, the sources said.
Mulayam said the convention of the rival camp passed no resolution removing him (Mulayam) from the post.
He said as per the SP's constitution, such a decision needs the backing of the Parliamentary Board, which was absent.
Sources in the commission said it will follow Paragraph 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to proceed on the dispute. It gives power to the commission "in relation to splinter groups or rival sections of a recognised political party".
"Both the sides will have to stake claim over the symbol otherwise how would the EC know that there is a dispute...we don't go by media reports," said an EC official.
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The commission could ask both sides to pick a new party name and symbol in the interim if the existing symbol 'cycle' is frozen.
According to EC sources, if the elections are imminent, then the poll body does not have the time to verify the legislative majority of both factions. In that situation, it can pass an interim order asking both sides to pick a new party name and symbol.
This happened in the case of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, a recognised state party in 2011. Both factions laid claim the symbol 'chair'.
The poll panel had then approved Uttarakhand Kranti Dal-P with the symbol 'cup and saucer' for one group led by Trivender Singh Pawar and Jantantrik Uttarakhand Kranti Dal with the symbol 'kite' as the new name and symbol for the faction led by Diwakar Bhatt.
Earlier, Mulayam asserted in Lucknow that "cycle symbol is ours."
He asked party cadres to focus on winning the assembly elections likely to be announced any day now.
"No one can accuse me of wrongdoing. I have never indulged in corruption or betrayed anyone," he said.
He, however, postponed the SP convention which he had called in Lucknow on January 5.
In a series of tweets, SP leader Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, maintained that Mulayam is the SP national president even now.
Shivpal gave no reasons for the abrupt postponement of the party convention, but insiders said perhaps the Mulayam camp was apprehensive of a poor turnout compared to the massive gathering at the "convention" held by Ramgopal Yadav on Sunday. The convention was declared illegal and unconstitutional by Mulayam.
The Samajwadi Party on Sunday split down the middle with the faction headed by Chief Minister Akhilesh removing Mulayam as party chief and appointing him in his place at a convention in which the group claimed support of the majority of legislators and district units.
The two sides had engaged in mutual recriminatory expulsions with the convention called by Ramgopal removing Akhilesh's warring uncle Shivpal as state party chief, and showing the door to "outsider" Amar Singh, who has been blamed for the feud in the Yadav clan.
Mulayam had retorted by again expelling his cousin Ramgopal for six years along with national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda, who chaired the convention, and general secretary Naresh Agarwal for taking part in it.
Amar and Shivpal this morning reached Delhi to fine tune the strategy to ensure that the symbol remains with Mulayam ahead of assembly polls in the state.