The ongoing bickering among the two warring factions of the Samajwadi Party over its control and election symbol 'bicycle' may end in truce this time after party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav agreed on Friday to act as a 'Margdarshak' in his desperate bid to save the party from the split.
However, the election watchdog reserved its order on the matter after a marathon hearing that lasted for over four hours. The Election Commission is expected to pass an interim order before the notification of polls in Uttar Pradesh on January 17.
On January 11, Mulayam had reportedly told party workers that the ruling Samajwadi Party will not be allowed to split and by saying this, he also hinted that he was mentally prepared to tone down his stance in front of son Akhilesh.
Mulayam did not even submit his claim for the party symbol throwing the ball in EC's court to take a decision on the matter.
The commission has told both the sides that a judgement will be delivered at the earliest as the process of filing nominations for the phase one of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will begin on January 17.
Appearing for Akhilesh Yadav, senior counsels Rajeev Dhavan and Kapil Sibal argued before the commission that majority of the MPs, MLAs, MLACs and party delegates are with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
During the arguments, rival cousins Mulayam Singh and Ramgopal were present.
While Mulayam was accompanied by his brother Shivpal, Ramgopal was with Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal.
Citing past precedents, Election Symbol Order of 1968 and provisions of the Representation of the People Act, including Section 29A, the Akhilesh camp argued that since the numbers are stacked in favour of the CM, the symbol should go to him.
But the Mulayam camp, represented by senior advocate and former solicitor general Mohan Parasaran said since there is "no vertical split in the party such as SP (Mulayam) and SP (Akhilesh), the commission lacks jurisdiction to allocate symbol to one of the groups.
The Mulayam camp also argued that since no resolution was passed at the convention called by Akhilesh loyalist Ramgopal Yadav on January 1 removing Mulayam as the party president and that the party is one, para 15 of the The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 does not apply on the case.
The claim was countered by the Akhilesh camp which said in one of the letters addressed to the commission, Mulayam loyalist Amar Singh has used the term 'splinter group' and that both sides are before the commission staking claim over symbol which indicates a 'dispute'.
"Both the sides staked claim on the election symbol. No one argued for freezing the symbol," Dhavan later told PTI. Responding to a question, he said though no one argued for freezing the symbol, it is one of the options available with the commission.
(With inputs from agencies)