Lucknow: Amid the continuing factional feud in his party, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav today appeared extending an olive branch to his rebellious son Akhilesh Yadav, saying he would be the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh if the party retains power.
"Akhilesh will be the next Chief Minister. Our party is completely united. There is no question of the party breaking up," Mulayam said.
The surprise statement came on a day when the factional war in the Samajwadi Party escalated with the Akhilesh camp seeking an early decision on the disputed party symbol while the embattled SP patriarch asserted that he is still the party chief.
Before the factional dispute reached the Election Commission with the two sides claiming majority support of delegates and elected representatives, Mulayam had refused to anoint Akhilesh as the party's chief ministerial candidate, saying the new MLAs would choose their leader.
"We will very soon tour the entire UP to send out a message of unity. All the confusion that was there is ending.
Akhilesh will be the next CM," he said.
Earlier during the day, Mulayam and his confidantes Amar Singh and Shivpal Yadav met top EC officials to claim majority support in the party.
Though the Mulayam camp did not submit any fresh documents, it asserted he is still the SP chief and has legal claim over the party and its symbol.
Mulayam also told the Commission that the convention called by Akhilesh Yadav camp on January 1 was "unconstitutional" as Ramgopal Yadav, who had convened the meet, was expelled from the party on December 30, 2016.
Mulayam also contested the affidavits of party leaders submitted by the party faction owing allegiance to his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, alleging they were forged and asked the EC to get them verified.