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EC reserves verdict on bicycle after hearing SP factions

Sidestepping the efforts to forge unity, the father and son duo of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav clung to their respective positions during the final hearing of the Election Commission on Friday.

The marathon hearing at the Commission’s head office in New Delhi remained inconclusive as both the warring factions laid claim to the party symbol bicycle but did not say anything to suggest a split in the party.

The unique situation leaves the EC hard pressed to give its verdict by Monday as the process of filing nominations for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections begins on January 17.

As the EC has no time to verify the respective claims, it can put a freeze on the symbol, leaving the two factions to choose from the available symbols.

Both Mulayam Singh and Ram Gopal came with their respective battery of heavyweight lawyers to argue before the EC.

Akhilesh’s faction represented by senior lawyers Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan argued on the basis of affidavits submitted to the EC that 90 per cent of the elected representatives and party functionaries are with the ‘current President’ and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav and thus have the bona fide right on the symbol.

The documents submitted by Ram Gopal include affidavits of 212 MLAs, 56 MLCs and 15 of the 24 Samajwadi Party MPs.

“None of the parties demanded that the symbol be freezed nor did they admit a split in the party. It is not for the Election Commission to decide who will be the President of the party. It is a civil dispute and can be decided by a civil court. The EC will give its decision only on the symbol,” said Dhawan.

Mulayam’s side represented by former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran claimed that not only the affidavits submitted by Akhilesh’s faction were forged, even the January 1 Convention of the party that made Akhilesh the party President was also unconstitutional as its convenor Ram Gopal Yadav had been expelled earlier.

“We argued that Mulayam Singh is the rightful claimant of the symbol as he continues to be the national President of the Samajwadi Party. None of the factions argued about a split in the party,” said advocate Gauri Neorampal, part of Parasaran’s team of lawyers.

For the hearing, Mulayam Singh gave Amar Singh a miss this time and came along with his brother Shivpal Yadav. Akhilesh’s side was represented by his mentor Ram Gopal Yadav, Akshay Yadav and MPs Kiranmoy Nanda and Naresh Agarwal.