The Samajwadi Party's (SP's) decision to contest the Bihar polls alone is significant on several counts, even if it is just a bit player in the state.
The decision by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to break ties with his partners could spell the end of the putative Third Front, and end any vague hopes he has of becoming PM, a cherished but increasingly unlikely dream.
The step also defeats the whole purpose for which Janata unity had been envisaged, that is, vanquishing the 'communal forces', read BJP.
It is evident from the statements of senior SP functionaries that they are peeved at not being consulted before seat adjustments in Bihar were made. This is a recurrent problem among allies, particularly of the 'social-justice variety'.
But a senior leader such as Mulayam should understand that ideals and ideologies should matter more to him and his party rather than the simple arithmetic of seat adjustments. If Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar could stick together despite their huge differences in the past, it is unwise on the part of Mulayam to make a fuss over this.
But then he has been known to change positions on various issues: Look at the way in which he parted company with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee on the issue of support in the presidential election in 2012.
Another factor that could have weighed on Mulayam's mind was the generosity that was shown to the Congress by the Lalu-Nitish combine, which gave the party 40 seats to contest.
Mulayam has never been well-disposed towards the Congress and this has its origin in the days of Rammanohar Lohia, his political mentor. But that was more than 50 years ago, and times have changed since then. If secular unity is what he is really looking for, Mulayam should understand it can never be possible if the Congress is left out of the matrix. Therefore, he should see the bigger picture and reverse his decision.