NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: Efforts for reconciliation in the Yadav family appeared to be gaining momentum with Shivpal meeting his nephew Akhilesh on Friday for the first time since the split in SP on Sunday even as the chief minister's camp claimed to have "signed" support of 212 of the 229 party MLAs.
With efforts on in Lucknow for a rapprochement between Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh, the chief minister's loyalist Ramgopal Yadav adopted a wait-and-watch policy by deciding against going to the Election Commission with a list of supporters despite announcing he would do so.
The Commission had asked both the camps to submit affidavits from supporting legislators and office bearers to establish their claim over Samajwadi Party and its election symbol 'cycle'.
"I had given a representation to the Commission. EC has now asked to provide it with affidavits by January 9. I am going to the Commission between 3 pm and 4 pm," he said earlier in the day.
But the Commission made it clear that neither did he sought a time nor submitted any document till 8pm, when the receipt and issuance section closes for the day.
Meanwhile, SP MP Amar Singh, whose return to the party recently after six years was one of the reasons for discord between Mulayam and son Akhilesh, said he was in favour of a patch-up between the father and the son and that he was not a "hurdle" in the path of the chief minister.
Shivpal this morning went to the residence of Akhilesh and met him, raising hopes of reconciliation.
Party insiders were tight-lipped on what transpired during the brief meeting between the uncle and the nephew who have been at loggerheads for months now. Shivpal later met his brother Mulayam Singh Yadav as well.
However, sources privy to the fast-paced developments did not rule out the possibility of resignation of Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, the "outsider" whose return to SP triggered a storm in the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, under a "compromise formula".
Another possibility could be resignation of Shivpal from the post of state SP chief, a charge held by the chief minister before the current family feud broke out.
It was the first meeting between Akhilesh and Shivpal since the chief minister donned the mantle of SP chief replacing his father Mulayam.
The meetings Shivpal had with Akhilesh and later with Mulayam this morning reflected hectic behind-the-scene negotiations as the Akhilesh camp prepared to hand over documents to the EC to claim that it was the "real" SP.
Akhilesh's supporter uncle Ramgopal Yadav claimed they have collected signatures of 212 of the 229 MLAs, 56 of the 68 MLCs, 15 of the 24 MPs and a majority of the 5,000 delegates, "making it crystal clear as to which was the real SP".
An inkling of a patch-up came late on Thursday night when Akhilesh planned to go to the airport here to receive his father, but dropped the idea when he came to know that Amar Singh was accompanying him in the chartered flight.
Soon after Mulayam's return from Delhi, his apolitical brothers Abhayram Yadav and Rajpal Yadav met him apparently to end the strife in the family.
During a meeting with SP MLAs, MLCs, MPs and senior leaders to collect their signed affidavits for submission before the EC, Akhilesh had on Thursday asked his father to give him Samajwadi Party's control for three months.
Shivpal's sudden meeting with Akhilesh came at a time when the chief minister was busy rebuilding his party by appointing district heads replacing those installed by his uncle Shivpal after dumping his loyalists.
Demonstrating strengthening of his grip on the party, Akhilesh appointed heads of seven more district party units on Thursday a day after naming new chiefs of four districts.
Mulayam and Shivpal have frequently reversed decisions and appointments made by the chief minister causing bad blood in the first family.
Shivpal is one of the main factors that has deeply estranged Akhilesh from Mulayam. Over the years, Akhilesh has paired with another uncle, Ramgopal, who serves as his mentor.
Akhilesh has also been insisting on sidelining or expulsion of Amar Singh, whom Ramgopal and another senior SP leader Azam Khan dub as an "outsider" in the party.
However, the back to back consultations after announcement of the election schedule showed a new momentum in the attempts of the two warring sides of the Samajwadi Party to close a deal which would prevent the outfit from splitting.
Akhilesh has made it clear that Shivpal will have to surrender his rights to decide candidates for the election, which his uncle has not agreed to.
Both the sides have readied documents to stake claim to the 'cycle' symbol of the party and in case the EC decides to freeze the symbol, the two factions would have to familiarise voters with a new symbol.
Mulayam, backed by Shivpal and Amar Singh, too has claimed the symbol that has been synonymous with Samajwadi Party which celebrated its silver jubilee recently.
Amar Singh, meanwhile, indirectly blamed Ramgopal for the vertical split in the party.
"Status of one is not gauged just by number or power. I want to clarify that I am no hurdle in the path of Akhilesh Yadav," Singh told reporters here.
Apparently hinting at Ramgopal whom he did not name, he said, "Whatever is happening in the party is not because of me but because of a supporter of Akhilesh."
He said he favours a patch-up between the two factions. "One gets hurt by one's own and not by outsiders. It's difficult to fight own people."