By Anirudh Singla
Ending the long dispute that has dominated the headlines, the Election Commission (EC) ruled in favour of Akhilesh Yadav by giving his faction the permission to use the party name and symbol. It ruled against the patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. Having ruled India’s most populous and politically volatile region since 2012, the Samajwadi Party has always been one of the biggest opponents in the electoral race to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The volatile break-up
Both the factions in the SP, one led by Mulayam Singh and the other by Akhilesh Yadav, had laid their claim over the party symbol. With both camps claiming to have no tiffs, difference among opinion was discernible. The Mulayam faction argued over the legality and thereafter labelled as ‘unconstitutional’ a convention of the Samajwadi Party called upon by Rajya Sabha MP Ram Gopal Yadav. While the Akhilesh camp, refuting all allegations proceeded to the EC by staking claim to the symbol on the basis of its supporting majority. There were talks of Yadav Senior decidingly talking about contesting against his son if he does not “listen” to him, seeking to wield the stick after the chief ministership carrot tiptoed down the spiral. As chances of reconciliation between the warring factions receded with each passing day, Mulayam accused Akhilesh of having a “negative approach” towards Muslims, thus highlighting the negative demeanour of vote bank politics.
Judgement day – 16 January 2017
With the EC accepting claims of the Akhilesh camp that 205 of the 228 party MLAs supported him, the contemporaneous chief minister also had the backing of 56 of 68 members of the legislative council and 15 of the 24 Samajwadi Party MPs. Having already submitted proof of a majority of national executive members and national convention delegates backing him up, the tides were sure to turn in his favours. The judgement day spilled a statement by an EC official which validated Akhilesh Yadav’s group to use the ‘cycle’ symbol. The group, “led by Shri Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol ‘Bicycle”, the commission said in its judgment.
Post the EC Verdict, a beaming Ram Gopal Yadav urged the populace of UP to vote Akhilesh Yadav back in power.
Chartering the future of UP politics
As of yet, Uttar Pradesh has 403 assembly constituencies wherein Akhilesh’s party would be contesting the majority of seats with RJD as a junior associate in Western UP, once believed to be a Ajit Singh Stronghold. Post the EC order, SP General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav expressed hope of the formation of a grand alliance to fight the BJP in the approaching Electoral Battle. The Seven-Phase Uttar Pradesh election begins February 11 and ends on March 8. Results will be counted on March 11. What is left to be seen is if the “56 inch chest” can overturn the Yadav turf and saffronise the heart of the country.