The Election Commission Friday reserved order on the Samajwadi Party's cycle symbol. Both factions of the party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav have laid claim to the poll symbol, contenting that they represent the real SP.
The EC, though, will have to decide on allotting the symbol to either faction - or alternatively freeze it - soon given that the notification for the first phase of the assembly election in Uttar Pradesh is due on 17 January. Indeed, the order may be issued as early as tomorrow.
At Friday's hearing before the EC, which started at noon, both factions went with senior lawyers. The Akhilesh faction was represented by former central minister Kapil Sibal, while Mulayam's side took along a battery of lawyers, led by the former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran.
The Mulayam faction, it is learnt, contended that there is no split in the SP and that Mulayam remains its national president. Hence, his side should get the symbol. This faction has challenged the legality of the 1 January national convention of the party called by Ram Gopal Yadav and Kiranmoye Nanda which anointed Akhilesh the SP chief and pushed Mulayam into an advisory role. The convention, they argued, could only be called by the president, read Mulayam, as per the party's constitution.
The rival faction is learnt to have countered that "since a majority of the party's functionaries at all levels is with Akhilesh, he should get the symbol". To support their argument, they referred to the affidavits signed by more than 90 per cent of the SP's functionaries in support of the chief minister that have already been submitted to the EC.
When the other side insisted that Akhilesh is not the SP president, the chief minister's side countered that this matter was not under the purview of the EC and referred to paragraph 15 of the Symbols Order 1968, which states that "when the commission is satisfied... that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party the commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing (their) representatives... and other persons as desire to be heard decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups".
To the Mulayam side's claim that there is no split in the SP, a leader of the Akhilesh faction who was present at the EC hearing told Catch, "If there is no dispute, than what were we doing there?"