New Delhi, Jan 16 The Election Commission on Monday recognised the faction led by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the Samajwadi Party and allotted it the ‘cycle’ symbol, dealing Akhilesh’s father and party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav a huge blow.
The Commission decided in favour of the Akhilesh-led faction after hearing both parties through their lawyers for several hours on January 13.
It noted that while the Akhilesh faction submitted individual affidavits of the members of the legislature and organisational wings in support of his claim of the majority support, the Mulayam faction failed to provide any such affidavit despite repeated calls by the poll panel.
The Election Commission, in a letter dated January 4, had asked both factions to file affidavits in support of their claims, which it reiterated on January 10.
The Akhilesh faction claimed the support of — and backed it with individual affidavits — 205 (out of 228) MLAs, 56 (out of 68) MLCs, 15 (out of 24) MPs, 28 (out of 46) national executive members and 4,400 (out of 5,731) national convention delegates.
“On the other hand, Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav, with his reply dated January 9, 2017, did not file any affidavit (except his own affidavit) of any Member of Parliament or state legislature or of any delegate,” the EC noted in its order.
“Nor did he (Mulayam Singh) make claim of any support among the aforesaid category of members for his group, in spite of the fact that he had been specifically directed to file all such affidavits in support of his claim,” it added.
The EC said “a mere look at the figures given above” would suffice to conclude that “Akhilesh Yadav enjoys overwhelming majority support, both among legislators and organisational wing of the party.”
“As a logical consequence of the above finding and applying the test of majority support approved by the Supreme Court in the case of Sadiq Ali (supra) … the Commission hereby holds that the group led by Shri Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol ‘bicycle’ for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968,” the EC observed.
The decision comes less than a month before the staggered Uttar Pradesh assembly election starts on February 11.
Ram Gopal Yadav, a close confidant of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, had also pointed out to the Commission that no meeting of the party’s national executive had been held since June 25, 2014, which was a significant violation of the party’s constitution.
According to the party constitution’s Section 15(10), the meeting of the national executive is required to be called by the party President at least once in two months.
He further submitted that as per Section 20 of the party constitution, the seven-member central parliamentary board is the authority to select candidates for elections to the state legislature and Parliament.
However, for the current election to the state Legislative Assembly, party President Mulayam Singh Yadav “declared the candidates without convening the meeting of the parliamentary board even once, in violation of the party constitution”.
He said that it was “in the above background that the applicant called the special national convention on January 1, 2017”.
“As the national President did not attend the convention, the national Vice President chaired the convention as per the provisions of the party constitution,” Ram Gopal Yadav submitted to the poll panel.
The Election Commission announcement triggered wild celebrations by Akhilesh supporters in Lucknow, where the Chief Minister immediately headed to the house of his father and party founder Mulayam Singh.
A beaming Ram Gopal Yadav, who led his faction’s fight at the EC, urged the people of Uttar Pradesh to vote Akhilesh Yadav back to power in the coming election.
“This is a just decision,” he told the media. “The Election Commission will get the blessings of crores of people of Uttar Pradesh.”
The Samajwadi Party formally split on January 1 when Ram Gopal Yadav, as the party’s General Secretary, called the national convention of the party where Akhilesh Yadav was declared the party chief in place of his father Mulayam Singh.
Subsequently, both factions then petitioned the Election Commission to allot it the ‘cycle’ symbol.
Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has lost the support of the majority in the party, had been desperate to hold on to the symbol which he picked long ago.