‘Getting ready for next step’: Akhilesh’s loaded remark after Mayawati meet
A day after the Lok Sabha elections ended and exit polls predicted gains for the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav called on his Bahujan Samaj Party counterpart Mayawati at her residence in Lucknow on Monday.
The two leaders met to discuss the likely political scenario in view of the exit poll results and made a constituency-wise assessment of the SP-BSP alliance’s performance and decided to opt for the wait and watch policy till the actual results were out, sources said.
The meeting went on for about an hour at the Mall Avenue residence of Mayawati. Later, Akhilesh Yadav posted a photograph of the meeting on Twitter post with the caption: “Now, getting ready for the next step.”
Political observers say Akhilesh may be hinting at the possible post-poll alliance attempts or the SP-BSP alliance going beyond 2019 just the way Mayawati had said at the January 12 press conference where the tie-up was announced.
Before the two leaders met, Mayawati cancelled a scheduled trip to Delhi. The BSP said: “(It) was not meant (for) any scheduled meeting with any political leader in Delhi.”
In a one-line statement soon after his meeting with Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav said: “We will talk after the results on May 23. I maintain my stand that the gathbandhan is winning 56 seats in UP.”
People familiar with the matter in the Samajwadi Party said the two leaders would now make courtesy phone calls to the non-Congress leaders such as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee or Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
The meeting was held three days ahead of the counting of votes and in the backdrop of efforts at opposition unity by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
Naidu visited Lucknow on Saturday and met both Akhilesh and Mayawati separately. He invited both to the May 21 opposition meeting in Delhi. However, according to a senior SP leader, both alliance partners were non-committal. The senior SP leader said that Akhilesh and Mayawati were not keen on participating in any formal opposition meeting before the result day.
In Uttar Pradesh, the gathbandhan hopes to ride on the arithmetic based on social calculations in a bid to outclass the BJP.
The BJP and ally Apna Dal won 73 (71+2) of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, and the Congress two.
The SP had won five seats while Mayawati’s BSP failed to open its account in 2014.
For this year’s general election, the two parties, which were arch rivals for 24 years, joined hands in an attempt to limit the BJP.