‘Cycle’ war: Election Commission reserves order in Samajwadi Party feud

New Delhi: The Mulayam and the Akhilesh Yadav camps argued before the Election Commission on January 13 to stake claim over ‘cycle’ election symbol of Samajwadi Party even as the poll body reserved its order on the issue. The Commission has both the sides that a judgement will be delivered at the earliest as the process of filing nominations for the phase one of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will begin on January 17.
Appearing for Akhilesh Yadav, senior counsels Rajeev Dhavan and Kapil Sibal argued before the Commission that majority of the MPs, MLAs, MLACs and party delegates are with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. During the nearly 4.5 hours of arguments, rival cousins Mulayam Singh and Ramgopal were present. While Mulayam was accompanied by his brother Shivpal, Ramgopal was with Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal.
Citing past precedents, Election Symbol Order of 1968 and provisions of the Representation of the People Act, including Section 29A, the Akhilesh camp argued that since the numbers are stacked in favor of the CM, the symbol should go to him.
But the Mulayam camp, represented by senior advocate and former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said since there is “no vertical split in the party such as SP (Mulayam) and SP (Akhilesh), the Commission lacks jurisdiction to allocate symbol to one of the groups.
The Mulayam camp also argued that since no resolution was passed at the convention called by Akhilesh loyalist Ramgopal Yadav on January 1 removing Mulayam as the party president and that the party is one, para 15 of the The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 does not apply on the case.
The claim was countered by the Akhilesh camp which said in one of the letters addressed to the Commission, Mulayam loyalist Amar Singh has used the term ‘splinter group’ and that both sides are before the Commission staking claim over symbol which indicates a ‘dispute’. “Both the sides staked claim on the election symbol. No one argued for freezing the symbol,” Dhavan later said.
Responding to a question, he said though no one argued for freezing the symbol, it is one of the options available with the Commission. Citing a Supreme Court order, Dhavan said the Commission can only decide on the symbol issue and matters like who is the president of the party can be decided by other available mechanisms, including civil court.
The EC may come out with an interim order if it is unable to decide on the case before January 17 as the process of filing nominations for the first phase of UP polls will begin on that day. After the split in the party last week, the factions led by Mulayam and his son Akhilesh had approached the Commission staking claim over the party and the symbol ‘cycle’.
Both the sides had also submitted some documents to further their claim and the Commission had given them time till Monday to provide signed affidavits of legislators and office bearers to claim control over the party’s name and symbol.
The side which has the support of majority (50% plus 1) MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates will gain an upper hand in the fight to control the party founded 25 years ago. The election for phase one in UP is on February 11. With the notification, the process of filing nominations will begin. Candidates from Mulayam and Akhilesh camps cannot fight election on cycle symbol at the same time, therefore, the EC will have to take a call on the issue before that date.

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