In a major development, which has suddenly made the coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh more interesting, the Election Commission of India on Monday granted the ‘cycle’ symbol to the Akhilesh Yadav-led faction of the Samajwadi Party.
Ending weeks of suspense on who would get the ‘cycle’ or whether the EC would freeze the symbol for the elections, the EC on Monday evening pronounced its judgement, in which it ruled in favour of the younger Yadav, entrusting him with the name and symbol of the party. “The Commission hereby answers the issue by holding that the group led by Akhilesh Yadav is the Samajwadi Party and is entitled to use its name and its symbol ‘bicycle’ for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968” the EC order stated.
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The EC’s decision is a major boost to Akhilesh Yadav, who was going through pangs of facing a crisis of identity in case the cycle symbol was not given to him or even frozen. In fact, the EC’s stamp of approval formally marks the passing of the Samajwadi Party baton to the next generation and gives strength to Akhilesh Yadav’s pro-development and anti-corruption plank that he has assiduously adopted in the last few years.
Talking to FE, a source close to Akhilesh said the EC’s decision will give his confidence level a huge boost and he would go all out with his development agenda.
However, the decision has come as a blow to party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was hoping the EC’s decision in his favour. He has finally lost not only his party and its symbol but also his pride. While it is yet to be seen whether he accepts the EC’s decision as final or decides to contest it in the courts of law, the EC decision surely marks the end of an era for him.
Earlier in the day on Monday, Mulayam Singh had stunned party workers by declaring he would fight against son Akhilesh Yadav if the later did not shed his “negative approach” towards the Muslims. In an apparent effort to keep the community glued to him after a possible split, Mulayam said, “I have always advocated the interest of Muslims. When I ensured the appointment of a Muslim as state’s director general of police (DGP), Akhilesh did not talk to me for 15 days. He did not want any Muslim on this post. It sent out an anti-Muslim message,” he alleged.
The SP founder alleged that Akhilesh had a “negative approach” towards Muslims and that he was playing into the hands of Ramgopal Yadav, who was working “on directions of BJP”. “Akhilesh is acting at the behest of Ramgopal. If he does not listen, I will fight against him,” he said. “I will live for Muslims and die for them. If it comes to Muslims’ interest, I will also fight against him (Akhilesh),” he said. Mulayam Singh currently represents Azamgarh in the Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, reacting to the EC’s decision, Ramgopal Yadav said he was hopeful of a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance with the Congress and the RLD will fight elections in UP and added that the party would come out with its list of candidates soon.
Soon after the EC’s decision, Akhilesh went to meet his father at his residence and sought his blessings. In a statement issued by him, Akhilesh maintained that the party would go to polls under the leadership of ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh Yadav. “Netaji’s face is Samajwadi Party’s identity. We will form the next government under his leadership,” he said. He also asked all party workers to exercise control and patience and go to their respective constituencies and start working towards the formation of the next government.