AS THEIR leaders came together for a joint press conference, the Samajwadi Party and BSP managed a careful balancing act both on and off the stage.
As Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav spoke, the banner that hung at the back featured pictures of both the leaders, in equal size, as well as smaller photographs of B R Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia and the colours blue and red.
Neatly separating the two halves was the slogan ‘Jai Bharat’.
Party workers who hailed the alliance carried flags of both the SP and BSP, some BSP workers also sported the SP red cap, and both sides took turns between slogans of “Jai Jai Akhilesh” and “Mayawati zindabad”, as well as “Bua-Bhatija abki bari (This time it is the turn of Bua and Bhatija)”.
There were no photographs of either of the two party founders, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Kanshi Ram. They found mention just once in the address of Mayawati, who referred to the last alliance sealed by them in 1993.
Mayawati clearly had the role of the senior partner, at least at Saturday’s press conference, with the BSP chief speaking for both parties over the seats each would contest and the possibility of a tie-up with the Congress, and leading the attack on the BJP, including for “misusing” the CBI against Akhilesh. The SP chief once said how he was ready to take the backseat to bring about the alliance, but that “Behenji” had given him equal place. Mostly Akhilesh let his smile and silence, at crucial points, do the talking.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that the SP president largely read out from a paper, instead of speaking extempore like he usually does. Soon after the press conference, posters came up outside the Uttar Pradesh Congress office, expressing gratitude to party chief Rahul Gandhi for picking own “babbar sher (party workers)” over “bua and babua”.