Taking On Each Other’s Adversaries Helps Maya, Akhilesh Overcome Differences
New Delhi: Bitter rivals-turned-coalition partners Mayawati and AkhileshYadavovercameapotential deal-breaker soon after the crucial Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in March last year, distanced themselves from each other’s adversaries as well as the Congress and decided to join forces to take on the BJP together in the 2019 general election months before they announced on Saturday that their parties will contest 38 seats each in UP.
The alliance appeared to be a given when Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) wrested Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats with the backing of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Yadav drove down to Mayawati’s Mall Avenue residence for the first time on March 14, 2018 to greet and thank her. However, the bonhomie did not last long, according to people aware of the matter.
Within a fortnight, the partnership hit a rough patch after Mayawati’s candidateforRajyaSabha,BhimRao Ambedkar, lost the election while SP’s Jaya Bachchan won a seat. Mayawati was upset with Yadav, said one person, especially since her bête noire and independent MLA RaghurajPratapSingh,whowasearlier a minister in the SP government, had voted for the BJP.
Yadav was quick to make amends, though, and distance himself from Singh.HeevendeletedaTwittermessage in which he had thanked Singh assuming he would vote for the SP or BSP candidate. “Yadav realised he had been duped and he had let Mayawati down,” a senior SP leader told ET on condition of anonymity.
SP realised that the matter was serious enough to derail the partnership, so Yadav went the extra mile to make it up to Mayawati and not contest again on his own seat to the UP Legislative Council in April. Instead, he got the BSP’s defeated candidate, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, elected to the seat. Yadav’s act of cold-shouldering Singh saw Mayawati finally returningthefavouronSaturdaybycriticising Shivpal Singh Yadav, whom the SP chief sees as his adversary.
Both leaders had been in touch since an in-principle decision to enter into an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls was taken around September, but the announcement was delayed to give the BJP “least time to prepare for it”, said a party leader said.
“The BJP’s reaction by way of an immediate CBI action to the meeting between Yadav and Mayawati in Delhi on January 4 which became public, only reinforced apprehensions of the two allies that the ruling party wanted to derail the alliance at any cost,” said an SP leader. “Hence, no more time was wasted and the alliance was announced on Saturday, nearly three days earlier than the anticipated announcement on Mayawati’s birthday on January 15. “