The Election Commission has set January 13 as the date of the hearing to decide which of the two Samajwadi Party factions will use the party’s symbol in upcoming Assembly polls. The party has split into two factions, under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and its national chief and Yadav’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav. Both factions have claimed the party name and symbol, the cycle, and had presented their cases to the Election Commission earlier.
The poll monitoring body will decide on the matter by January 17, which is when the nomination process for the state elections is set to start. The elections will be held in seven phases from February 11 onwards.
Mulayam Singh Yadav had requested his son to withdraw his faction’s representation to the commission. On January 7, Akhilesh Yadav had submitted affidavits to the poll monitor, saying he had the support of over 90% of SP’s members. The commission had asked both sides to file their replies to each other’s petitions. Officials said the cycle symbol may be frozen if the dispute remained unresolved after January 17.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, has repeatedly denied a rift with his son. Earlier on Monday, he had said that the problem was only within the party and not with Akhilesh Yadav. “One person is creating trouble,” he had said, in an apparent reference to Ram Gopal Yadav. He had told ANI that there was no chance of a split within the party, adding that Akhilesh Yadav will be the Uttar Pradesh chief minister after the Assembly elections.
The feud within the Samajwadi Party escalated last month when Akhilesh Yadav released his own list of candidates for the state elections as he was unhappy with the names selected by Shivpal Yadav. Supporters had declared the UP chief minister the national president of the party at a convention on January 1 even as Mulayam Singh Yadav asserted his position as the SP chief. He had expelled Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years after the convention.
The Samajwadi Party will be contesting for seats primarily against the Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.