Rahul Gandhi is more inclined towards Akhilesh, who has said their combination could win more than 300 of the 403 assembly seats.
Amit Agnihotri reports.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav won the war for the Samajwadi Party's poll symbol, the bicycle, after the Election Commission settled the dispute in his favour, rejecting party patriarch Mulayam Singh's claims.
Akhilesh's emergence as party boss could pave the way for an alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in UP.
Announcement of a pact might come in a day or two, sources said.
Uttar Pradesh will see a seven-phase polls for 403 assembly seats from February 11 to March 8. The results will be out on March 11.
The EC decision came a day before the notification for phase-I. The poll panel had reserved its order after hearing the lawyers of both sides on January 13.
Mulayam did not present any proof to the poll panel backing his claim to use the bicycle as his party symbol.
The Akhilesh faction submitted proof claiming the support of 205 of the 228 members of the legislative assembly, 56 of the 68 members of the legislative council, 15 of the 24 parliamentarians, 28 of the 46 national executive members and 4,400 of the 5,731 delegates.
This evidence clinched the dispute over poll symbol in Akhilesh’s favour, said the EC.
After winning the dispute, the chief minister walked over from his house in Lucknow to see his father, who lives next door.
Mulayam had said earlier in the day he would 'abide' by the Election Commission's verdict and was ready to fight the faction led by his son.
The Congress congratulated the UP chief minister.
Congress spokesperson R P N Singh told Business Standard: "Akhilesh represents the true SP as 90 per cent of the lawmakers and party workers were with him. We thank the EC."
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is more inclined towards Akhilesh, who has publicly said their combination could win more than 300 of the 403 assembly seats.
Nationalist Congress Party General Secretary Tariq Anwar and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad also favoured the alliance in UP, on the lines of the one made in Bihar in 2015. Rahul Gandhi is more inclined towards Akhilesh, who has publicly said their combination could win more than 300 of the 403 assembly seats.
Backing Akhilesh, Anwar said the UP chief minister's "good image" will greatly help the alliance.
"If we stop the communal forces in a state like Uttar Pradesh," Anwar said, "then it will send a strong message across the country."
Lalu Prasad said he would speak with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi before entering into a pact with Akhilesh.
The dispute in the SP arose on January 1 when party leader Ram Gopal Yadav named Akhilesh as party president at a national convention.
Mulayam was made an advisor, and his brother Shivpal Yadav was removed as the UP unit chief.
Controversial Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh was expelled. Earlier, Mulayam had expelled both Ram Gopal and Akhilesh but had taken them back into the party the next day.
Mulayam later told the EC that the convention was illegal, and asserted himself as the party boss.
Photograph: Akhilesh Yadav/Facebook