Putting a quarter century of rivalry behind to counter the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati took to the stage Friday with SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav in his Mainpuri bastion. Mulayam, also the gathbandhan candidate, asked his supporters to always “respect Mayawatiji” while she called him a “real leader” of the backward “unlike” Prime Minister Narendra Modi who she said was “farzi” (fake).
The two leaders have been at loggerheads since the “Guest House” incident in 1995 when Mayawati was allegedly attacked by SP workers in Lucknow. The SP-BSP rivalry stemmed from this incident in the state that sends 80 legislators to Parliament and marked the end of the first alliance between the two.
But at the mahagathbandhan rally in Mainpuri, the bonhomie showed. Mulayam took Mayawati’s name eight times in his 10-minute speech and Mayawati, in turn, quoted “Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav ji” on ten occasions in her 20-minute address.
After waving to the crowds together, Mulayam turned to take his seat but when his son and SP chief Akhilesh asked him to come forward again, Mayawati put her hand on Mulayam’s elbow and asked Akhilesh not to force him. And once seated, Mulayam asked an SP leader who brought him a bottle of water to touch the feet of Mayawati, sitting next to him and the leader complied.
Speaking first, Mulayam started by welcoming Mayawati. “I am very glad that Mayawati and I are on one stage after a long time. And we will have to stay on the same stage,” he said asking the roaring crowd to ensure he wins with a huge margin as this was his “last election”. Mulayam also said that he will never forget Mayawati’s “ehsaan” (favour) of seeking votes for him.
“Mahilayon ke saath shoshan ho raha hai (Women are being exploited). For this, I had raised a question in Lok Sabha and I am happy that leaders from all political parties accepted this and decided to stop the exploitation,” he said.
Taking the stage next, Mayawati did refer to the guest house incident of June 2, 1995. She said: “I know people must be wondering why I have come here to campaign for Mulayam Singh ji despite the State Guest House case.”
A test for the alliance
With 80 seats, UP is top prize. The key question: will this arithmetic translate on the ground and counter the Modi-Yogi chemistry?
“In the interest of the country, public and party, sometimes we have to take such difficult decisions. Keeping this thought and seeing the present circumstances in the country, we have decided to contest this election in alliance with the SP in Uttar Pradesh.”
She also targeted Prime Minister Modi alleging that he “misused government machinery” to list his upper castes into “backward category” during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. “He (Mulayam) is not a false and fake member of the backward community like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mulayam Singh ji is original, real and from the backward community by birth. It is very well known that Narendra Modi during his tenure in Gujarat misused his government machinery to bring his forward castes into the list of backward classes,” she said. Click here for more election news
As the rally wound down, Akhilesh introduced Mayawati’s nephew Akash Anand, who Mulayam blessed on stage and Mayawati ended with her party’s customary “Jai Bhim” and then quickly added the SP’s signature slogan: “jai Lohia” and “jai Bharat”.