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Battle for Bicycle reaches EC's door

Pushing brinkmanship to the edge, the two feuding factions of the Samajwadi Party (SP) met the Election Commission (EC) on Monday, the last day fixed by the poll watchdog to stake their respective claims on the party and its symbol – the ‘bicycle.’

Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is nursing estranged relations with his Chief Minister son Akhilesh Yadav, was the first to meet the Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi.

Flanked by brother Shivpal Yadav and close aide Amar Singh, Mulayam arrived at the EC’s office at 12:30 pm, after which he had more than an hour-long meeting with the commission in which he staked his claim on the party and the symbol. Mulayam also challenged seven boxes of documents that were submitted by ‘rival cousin’ Ram Gopal Yadav claiming they were forged and the loyalty of most representatives remained with him.

The SP supremo also shot off a letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, informing him about the expulsion of Ram Gopal from the party and as leader of the party in the Upper House. He also urged Ansari to shift Ram Gopal’s seat to the back benches following his expulsion from the party.

After Mulayam’s exit at around 1:30 pm, an hour and a half later Ram Gopal reached the commission with his son Akshay Yadav, senior party leader Naresh Agarwal, and party vice-president Kironmoy Nanda to stake Akhilesh’s claim. The UP Chief Minister did not come in person.

“We have come here with the prayer to the EC to decide on the issue of the symbol at the earliest,” Ram Gopal said. He, however, refused to comment on Mulayam’s decision to expel him from the party.

The ball is now in the EC’s court. It is bound to take a decision before January 17, the date of notifications for the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh.

Though Mulayam left the commission’s office without saying a word, once back at his Ashoka Road residence in the Capital, he again gave indications that all was not lost and a patch up with his son may still take place soon.

“There is no dispute between father and son. My son has been misled. The quarrel is because of one person (Ram Gopal). I have told my cadres to choose all candidates with consensus and where they cannot I’ll come and set things right,” said Mulayam breaking free from the cordon of his close aides.

A close loyalist of the SP supremo also said that they are hoping Netaji to declare patch up with Akhilesh on Tuesday or the day after that in Lucknow but are keeping their fingers crossed.

The resultant confusion has given rise to several possibilities. The first includes the likely scenario of the EC putting a freeze on the bicycle symbol, and asking both factions to choose from 1,100-odd free symbols it has in its bank. SP sources said, in such a case, the Akhilesh faction may choose either a motorcycle or a mobile phone as its symbol as both will have a recall value—the motorcycle being a progressive corollary to the bicycle and the mobile because Akhilesh has recently announced free distribution of smartphones to the 18-plus youth across the state.

However, the, EC after scrutinising the documents, can also decide to let the bicycle symbol remain with one of the factions. This will give sure shot mileage to that faction.

Finally, in case, a last minute patch up does happen, both factions will have to withdraw their respective petitions and both the symbol and the party will remain intact.


September 16: Mulayam says as long as he is alive party will not split.

October 15: Mulayam denies rift but avoids a direct endorsement Akhilesh as the party’s CM candidate

October 23: Party general secretary Ram Gopal expelled from the party by Mulayam

November 17: Ram Gopal reinstated in the party

December 30: Mulayam expels Akhilesh and Ram Gopal for six years

January 1: Ram Gopal architects a coup, removes removes Amar Singh and Shivpal, makes Akhilesh party president and Mulayam the chief patron