The Election Commission on Thursday asked both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav to file a reply by January 9 on each other’s petitions to claim the party symbol, reported ANI. This comes as factions of their supporters had appealed to the poll body to allow them to use the party symbol in the Assembly elections, which will begin on February 11. As voters have long associated the cycle symbol with the party, proving that their faction is the actual Samajwadi Party is vital for both sides ahead of the state election.

Earlier in the day, a group of lawmakers visited Akhilesh Yadav’s residence in Lucknow. They might at some point be asked to sign a document to confirm their allegiance to the chief minister, reported NDTV. Party members told DNA that around 100 legislators had already submitted their signed affidavits and more will follow. Meanwhile, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav came to Delhi to submit the details of the support he has amassed. The two leaders had been asked to show their strength in order to retain the party symbol.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have been involved in an ongoing row that escalated in December, when Akhilesh Yadav released his own list of candidates for the polls. The two met on January 3, but could not resolve their issues amicably.

On January 1, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was declared the Samajwadi Party’s national president by his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav and supporters at a national executive meeting in Lucknow. Both leaders were expelled from the party on December 30 but reinstated a day later. Akhilesh Yadav was expelled from the Samajwadi Party soon after Mulayam Singh Yadav issued him a show cause notice for releasing his own list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh polls.

The Samajwadi Party has faced infighting since September, when Shivpal Yadav wasappointed the state SP chief. Akhilesh Yadav had then relieved Shivpal, his uncle, of his Cabinet portfolios, once in September and again in November. Despite intervention from Mulayam Singh Yadav, the rift in the party has remained, with Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters reportedly functioning independently out of a separate office in Lucknow.