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Mulayam, Shivpal rush to Delhi to meet EC; Akhilesh meets MLAs

Lucknow: Gearing up for a show of strength, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav today left for Delhi to furnish details of support to the EC for retaining the ‘cycle’ symbol while the faction led by his son Akhilesh met loyalists here to collect signed affidavits to be presented to the poll body.

While sources in the Mulayam camp said the party supremo was armed with signed affidavits of MLAs, MLCs and MPs which he would furnish to the EC, the number of the signed affidavits with him was not immediately clear.

Mulayam was accompanied by Shivpal Yadav, who was “removed” from the post of state SP chief at the party’s disputed national convention where Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was crowned as SP President replacing his father.

As Mulayam and Shivpal left for the national capital, Akhilesh met his loyalists at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence to collect their signed affidavits to be presented before the EC in a day or two to claim the party symbol, party sources said.

Giving ample indications that he was not in a mood to climbdown, a defiant Akhilesh said today, “We are going for polls… Will return again.”

The Election Commission has initiated the process for the two warring factions of the Samajwadi Party – one led by Mulayam and the other by Akhilesh – to prove their majority for getting the party symbol. In the 404-member UP Assembly, SP has 229 MLAs.

The EC has asked both factions to show strength of MLAs, MPs and MLCs supporting them through signed affidavits.

Sources in the Akhilesh camp claimed that some 100 legislators had already submitted their signed affidavits and more were in the pipeline.

At the “national convention” of SP convened by Ramgopal Yadav on Jaunary 1, over 200 of the 229 MLAs had turned up besides a large number of MLCs and MPs and senior party leaders and office bearers.

SP MP Naresh Agarwal, who is close to the chief minister, claimed that majority of the party MLAs, MLCs and MPs were with Akhilesh.
“Kahan nut-bolt lagana hai, kahan hathura isteymal karna

hai, sahi sey karengey. (Where to tighten screw and where to use hammer, we will do it effectively),” Akhilesh had said yesterday.

With the two warring sides agreeing to disagree, hectic back channel moves to broker peace were witnessed in the state capital during the past two days, but all efforts failed to salvage the ruling party from split.

The announcement of poll schedule too did not make the two sides bury the hatchet.

In fact, after parting ways with his father, Akhilesh appeared to be further consolidating his position in the party by announcing appointment of party presidents in several districts in his capacity as the “new SP chief”.

The presidents in these districts had been removed by Shivpal.

“On the directives of national president Akhilesh Yadav, state president Naresh Uttam today directed Deoria, Kushinagar, Azamgarh and Mirzapur district presidents to continue on their posts and strengthen the party,” an official release issued by the Akhilesh faction said late last night.

These office bearers were asked by Akhilesh to work in favour of the party and ensure victory of SP candidates.

Polls will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh on February 11 (73 constituencies), February 15 (67 constituencies), February 19 (69), February 23 (53), February 27 (52), March 3 (49) and March 8 (40).

PTI