It was the evening of the long vigil — even for the Samajwadi Party that hopes to be the biggest gainer in the 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
A studied silence prevailed outside the Vikramaditya Marg residence of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, even though the crowds kept swelling.
Yadav, too, had decided to keep his lips sealed till the results are out on Tuesday. The only statement he made was assuring the UPA government at the Centre that his party would continue to support it, come what may.
The exit polls have placed SP ahead of its rivals, but well short of a majority. The governor’s role would thus be crucial.
Twice in the past — in 1996 and 2002 — the governor had refused to let the single largest party form the government. The second attempt was made by Yadav himself. That time, the SP had bagged 143 seats, but President’s Rule was declared in the state after the governor, the late Vishnu Kant Shashtri, turned down Yadav’s bid to form the government. A few months later, the BSP and the BJP struck an alliance and came to power.The Congress, a possible kingmaker this time, has sent conflicting signals.
While its state unit chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi maintained that the party would sit in the Oppo-sition benches if it falls short of a majority, Union minister Beni Prasad Verma said he preferred supporting Mayawati over Mulayam.
A tie-up with either would eat away the recently recovered Muslim support of the Congress — which might head for a disaster in view of the Lok Sabha elections being just two years away.
The BSP office here wore a deserted look as chief minister Mayawati remained closeted with her confidants at her Mall Avenue residence. The only party which can prop her up — the BJP — ordered its leaders to remain silent. Though party chief Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any post-poll alliance, a formula might still be worked out. Else, the onus might be on RLD chief Ajit Singh to play mediator and bring the Congress and SP together.