Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday assured supporters that he will not let the party split. “I faced hardships to build SP and will not let it split. I have declared that he [Akhilesh Yadav] will be the CM,” Yadav told supporters at the SP office in Lucknow, where he was accompanied by Shivpal Yadav, his brother and Uttar Pradesh party chief.

Mulayam Singh Yadav blamed his cousin and Akhilesh Yadav loyalist Ram Gopal Yadav of trying to form another party – Akhil Bhartiya Samajwadi Party – with the symbol of a motorcycle. “We will save the party, I want to save the party. I want to save our cycle,” he said, according to Hindustan Times.

“Neither are we forming another party, nor are we changing the party symbol. It is them [the other faction] trying to form a separate party,” he said, adding that he had tried to negotiate with them to hold the outfit together. “I told them to not get into infighting. We want unity.”

The 77-year-old has repeatedly denied a rift with his son. On Tuesday, he had requested Akhilesh Yadav to withdraw his faction’s representation to the Election Commission, trying to stake claim on the party symbol – the cycle. He had said eariler that the problem was only within the party and not with his son. “One person is creating trouble,” he had said, in an apparent reference to his cousin and Akhilesh Yadav loyalist Ram Gopal Yadav.

The feud within the Samajwadi Party escalated last month after Akhilesh Yadav released his own list of candidates for the state Assembly elections as he was unhappy with the names selected by Shivpal Yadav. Supporters had declared the Uttar Pradesh chief minister the national president of the party at a convention on January 1, even as Mulayam Singh Yadav had asserted his position as the SP chief. He had expelled Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years after the convention.

Moreover, the Election Commission will hear arguments from both Samajwadi Party factions on January 13 as they fight over the party name and symbol ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls. The two factions had presented their cases to the poll body earlier.

Elections in the state will be held in seven phases from February 11. The Samajwadi Party will be contesting for seats primarily against the Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.