In what signals a tectonic shift in the political dynamics of Uttar Pradesh, two foes-turned friends of Indian politics – BSP Supremo Mayawati and SP President Akhilesh Yadav – shared stage for the first time in Karnataka at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. The two former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India which is considered key to winning the national elections, were seated next to each other and were even seen sharing light moments.
SP and BSP are considered as arch-rivals in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and Mayawati shares a very bitter past with Akhilesh’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
SP and BSP had recently fought two Lok Sabha by-elections together and fuelled speculation of forging a pre-poll alliance for Lok Sabha elections 2019. Together, the two parties make a formidable force in Uttar Pradesh and can damage the prospects of BJP in the state.
However, Mulayam too has backed the decision of his son Akhilesh Yadav, saying such an alliance will prove to be very strong in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “It is a very good effort…with both the parties coming together, no one will be able to stop them in the Lok Sabha election…there is a need to keep it going,” Mulayam had said. Moreover, SP patron thanked the workers of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after his party candidates thrashed BJP in the recently held bypolls to two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. Shunning their decades-long rivalry, the SP and the BSP came together against the BJP in the bypolls and wrested the two important Lok Sabha seats — Gorakhpur and Phulpur — from the saffron party last month.