Jan. 9: Mulayam Singh Yadav today said son Akhilesh would remain chief minister after the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.
"It's Akhilesh who will be the next chief minister," the Samajwadi Party patriarch told reporters at his Lucknow home minutes after returning from Delhi.
Ostensibly, father and son are fighting for control of the party and are competing before the Election Commission for the right to the Samajwadi poll symbol, the cycle.
"Akhilesh will become CM again. It's going to happen without much effort. The party will remain united," Mulayam reaffirmed, appearing to make light of the recent tensions.
His comments appeared in sync with his actions earlier this morning when he met the Election Commission in Delhi along with brother Shivpal and Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh.
Instead of submitting affidavits of support from party lawmakers - a requirement for a successful claim to the poll symbol - he merely handed over a petition declaring the January 1 "national convention" called by cousin Ram Gopal Yadav as invalid.
That disputed convention had replaced Mulayam with Akhilesh as party national president, ousted Shivpal as state unit chief and suspended Amar from the party.
Mulayam handed the Election Commission letters to show that Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha MP and chief adviser to Akhilesh, had been suspended from the party on December 30 and therefore lacked the authority to call a national convention, a source said.
"He also told the poll panel it should not entertain Ram Gopal's submissions (for the poll symbol) for the same reason," the source said.
Mulayam also wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, saying the party had sacked Ram Gopal as its leader in the House and his seat should be changed.
In Lucknow, too, Mulayam hit out at Ram Gopal by implication. Asked why there was so much confusion in the party, he said: "I'm not creating any confusion. There's only one person vitiating the atmosphere in the party."
Some party sources said that part of the confusion owed to Mulayam speaking one way before Akhilesh but changing his tune in the company of Amar and Shivpal.
A Mulayam aide said Akhilesh had not yet promised to withdraw his demands for sole right to pick the poll candidates and for Amar's removal from the party.
At the media interaction, Mulayam didn't seem bothered. "I'll soon start campaigning across the state. I shall address one rally in each division (the state has 18). There isn't much time left; so I can't address rallies in all 75 districts," he said.
Earlier in the day, Mulayam had refused to receive a notice sent to him by Ram Gopal.
"The Election Commission had asked me to submit the affidavits of delegates supporting Akhilesh and send a copy to Netaji (Mulayam)," Ram Gopal had said in Delhi.
Ram Gopal had yesterday said he had handed the commission 4,400-odd affidavits - from more than 90 per cent of the party's lawmakers and officials - to establish Akhilesh as the party's leader and true claimant to its poll symbol.
Ram Gopal today said his group was ready to parade its supporters in front of the poll panel since the other faction had alleged their affidavits were fake.
The Akhilesh camp is working out a contingency plan in case the commission decides to freeze the cycle as an election symbol.
Asked about Mulayam's allegation that he was creating problems within the party, Ram Gopal said: "I don't want to comment on his statements."
Earlier in the day, Akhilesh supporters prevented Deepak Mishra, appointed the party's state spokesperson by Shivpal, from entering his room in the state Samajwadi headquarters.