The Election Commission on Tuesday fixed January 13 as the date of hearing the Samajwadi Party factions led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav to settle the dispute over control of the party and its election symbol, 'cycle'.
The Commission wants to settle the matter before January 17 when the process of nomination begins for the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh to be held on February 11, provided the two sides proceed accordingly. Notices are being sent to both factions for the January 13 hearing.
While the Akhilesh camp has submitted affidavits signed by SP MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates supporting Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the other side has maintained that as per the party's constitution, Mulayam Singh Yadav is still the party chief.
The Mulayam-led faction has also claimed the affidavits submitted by the Akhilesh camp have been forged and that the poll panel should get them verified before proceeding.
The Akhilesh camp had on Monday urged the Commission to decide on the matter at the earliest as the nomination process will begin Tuesday next.
The 'cycle' symbol faces the threat of being frozen before the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls if the Election Commission is not able to decide which of the two factions of the party commands majority in the organisation.
The side which has the support of majority (50 percent plus 1) of MPs, MLAs, MLCs and delegates will gain an upper hand in the fight to control the party founded 25 years ago. Candidates from Mulayam and Akhilesh camps cannot fight election on 'cycle' symbol at the same time, therefore, the EC will have to take a call on the issue before the filing of nominations begins.