New Delhi: Mulayam Singh Yadav today said he has no dispute with his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and that they will "sort out problems." He had just met the Election Commission in Delhi to stake claim to the "cycle," the symbol of the Samajwadi Party that he founded 25 years ago. Akhilesh Yadav has challenged him both for the symbol and the post of party chief. His close aide and uncle Ram Gopal Yadav met the Election Commission soon after Mulayam Singh did and said Team Akhilesh has asked the panel to "take a quick decision" on which faction will get the symbol.
- Mulayam Singh met with the Election Commission to stake claim to "cycle"
- Akhilesh Yadav camp claims support of over 200 of 229 SP lawmakers
- Election Commission may freeze cycle symbol if not convinced by claims
"There is no rift between my son and I. There is some problem in the party, one person is creating trouble; I am sure that matters will be resolved," said Mulayam Singh Yadav, targeting Ram Gopal Yadav, who is his cousin.
Ram Gopal Yadav has ruled out a rapprochement. "The majority is with Akhilesh Yadav. The symbol will go to whoever has numbers," he said on the weekend after submitting to the Election Commission six boxes of documents with signatures of support from more 200 or the Samajwadi Party's 229 lawmakers. These, he says, prove that Akhilesh Yadav now heads the state's ruling party, having been named party president in place of his father at a meeting attended by about 5,000 leaders and workers on January 1.
At a short press conference on Sunday, Mulayam Singh indicated his strategy in the absence of numbers to back him - he does not acknowledge that the party has split, and insists that he continues to be the boss. "I am the national president, Akhilesh Yadav is the Chief Minister, Shivpal Yadav is the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit," Mulayam Singh said, reiterating that the meeting that saw his son being named party president was illegal as it was called by Ram Gopal, expelled a day before by him from the Samajwadi Party.
At Mulayam Singh's Delhi home, Ram Gopal Yadav's face has been torn out of a party poster that features the rest of the leaders - including Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh.
While Akhilesh Yadav is believed to have indicated his willingness to contest on another symbol, his faction wants the "cycle" with potential partner Congress keen on him retaining it. Elections will be held in seven phases in UP starting February 11, which leaves little time for either faction to popularise a new symbol with voters.
If the Election Commission is not convinced by the claim of either side, it could today freeze the "cycle" and allot new symbols to both factions.