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UP Elections 2017: Let son ride Bicycle, EC tells SP patriarch Mulayam; Akhilesh wrests control of party

In a major boost to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ahead of Assembly elections in the state, the Election Commission on Monday gave the symbol ‘Bicycle’ to the faction headed by him, recognising it as the official Samajwadi Party.

Citing the documentary evidence submitted by Akhilesh’s mentor, Ram Gopal Yadav, the Election Commission in its verdict said, “…a mere look at the figures will evidently demonstrate that Akhilesh Yadav enjoys overwhelming majority support, both among the legislative and organisational wing of the party.”

In the order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and two Election Commissioners—OP Rawat and AK Joti—the EC also cited the test of majority support approved by the Supreme Court in the case of Sadiq Ali and consistently applied by the Commission thereafter in all cases of disputes.

Before giving its verdict, the EC gave an elaborate hearing to the both the factions represented by the battery of legal experts that included Kapil Sibal and Rajiv Dhawan from Akhilesh’s side and Mohan Parasaran and N Hariharan from Mulayam’s side and presented the full facts of the case in its order. It also went through various judgments of the Apex Court and also the previous cases of similar nature heard and decided by it.

The Commission passed the order just hours ahead of beginning of the filing of nomination process for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections for 73 seats on February 11.

Earlier, both sides had filed competing claims with the Election Commission earlier this month as the rightful owners of the Bicycle symbol, stating that if needed, they would contest the election as rival outfits. Having strong recall value to get votes, the symbol was very crucial for both the factions.

Responding to the Commission’s directions of January 4, Ram Gopal Yadav had submitted six carton loads of affidavits in support of Akhilesh Yadav on January 6 that included 205 MLAs, 56 MLCs, 15 MPs, 28 national executive members and 4,400 national convention delegates. It had a massive support of 4,716 members out of a total of 5,731 delegates.

In contrast, the Commission noted Mulayam Singh Yadav, in his reply on January 9, did not file any affidavit (except his own affidavit) of any member of the parliament or state legislature or any of the delegates; nor did he make a claim of any support among these categories of members for his group.

Even though the EC advanced the time of filing any further affidavits till January 12, Mulayam Singh Yadav did not file any affidavits, said the commission. It added that in “all his replies Mulayam Singh only made the contention that there was no split in the party under determination of para 15 of the symbols order.”