Before the Samajwadi Party decided to quit the grand alliance in Bihar over seat-sharing issues, two senior leaders in the party were of the opinion, and suggested to the party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, that the UP-ruling party must focus on retaining power in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections and put plans on emerging as a national player through the Janata Parivar on the backburner for the time being.
Highly placed sources in the party ruling Uttar Pradesh said Ram Gopal Yadav and Mohd Azam Khan were of the view that concentrating on defeating BJP and BSP in next year's assembly polls should be the focus of SP, which would not be possible by being part of a larger alliance.
They are learnt to have told Mulayam that SP cannot afford to lose its identity in the process as it could mean compromising its Yadav-Muslim votebank.
The sources said the two leaders succeeded in convincing Mulayam that aspirations of emerging as a big player in Parliament by becoming part of the Janata Parivar would serve little purpose at this moment.
The SP had suffered a major loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it could win only five seats as BJP swept the state.
The two leaders are understood to have told Mulayam that as the Janata Parivar took longer than expected to come together, now the SP supremo should only work on winning the Assembly polls.
The term of the UP Assembly ends on May 27, 2017.
At a recent meeting of SP's office bearers, Mulayam had said that the party would meet with an electoral disaster if the "present state of affairs" continued.
"I was told that if Vidhan Sabha elections are held today, the party would lose," Mulayam had said, stunning everyone at a meeting of the party's state executive and office-bearers of district units.
Despite Mulayam's continued reluctance to assure them that SP will return to the grand alliance, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad are still hopeful that they would be able to salvage the nascent coalition.
JD(U) and RJD scrambled to rescue the 'Mahagathbandhan' after SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav's sudden announcement in Lucknow on Thursday that his party was walking out of it as it felt "humiliated" after not being consulted by larger partners in the state over seat sharing.
"He (Mulayam) is our guardian. He has all the more responsibility to ensure this (that the alliance continues). Communalism is a threat to the country. Everyone wants to finish it.
"We have told Netaji to reconsider it so that a socialist and secular government is formed in Bihar," Lalu, who rushed to Delhi from Patna for the rescue job, had told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Mulayam yesterday where Sharad Yadav was also present.
After the meeting, SP leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said Mulayam was not comfortable with being seen in the company of Congress , a rival in politics of Uttar Pradesh where JD(U) or RJD have hardly any stake. Being seen with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at election rallies would not go down well with SP supporters, they had said.
The Samajwadi Party chief was also roundly criticised by Sonia for pushing for smooth functioning of Parliament when Congress had repeatedly stalled the proceedings over the Lalit Modi controversy, land Bill and the Vyapam scam, they reminded.