The Election Commission has fixed January 13 as a day of reckoning for the Samajwadi Party, which has been mired in a series of controversies and has seen the bitter separation of father Mulayam Singh Yadav and son Akhilesh Yadav and the apparent reconciliation. Two factions, one led by the party supremo Mulayam and his brother Shivpal Yadav, and the other by Akhilesh and his uncle Shiv Gopal Yadav, will approach the commission to seek the cycle symbol on which all previous elections have been fought. The first phase of polling in the state begins on January 17 and the EC will look to settle the matter before that date.
Notices have been sent to both the warring factions asking them to appear before the EC on that day. Analysts suggest that for millennia, the electoral symbol of any party is paramount in garnering votes and winning. Whichever faction gets the symbol in this scenario will be recognised as the real Samajwadi Party, at least to voters, and will look to return to power. The Akhilesh camp maintains that it is the real party as the majority of the party’s cadre, including MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates, support the young turk and the CM. Before the UP Elections 2017 begin, written affidavits have been submitted to that effect. The other side has maintained that as per the SP’s constitution, Mulayam Singh Yadav is still the party chief and that the symbol should be returned to them.
Under such circumstances, the EC can pursueone of two possible courses. One, it can anoint either of the factions as the real SP and assign the electoral symbol of the cycle to that faction, in which case the other faction will have no option but to concede. Two, the EC can also freeze the symbol and assign two different symbols to the two factions, in which case each faction loses and the other parties, the BSP, the BJP and the Congress stands to gain. According to the EC’s rules, any party contesting the UP Elections 2017 has to have the support of themajority, or 50 percent plus one, of all MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates to be identified as a bona fide contestant. UP goes to the polls in seven phasesand the results are to be declared on March 11.