New Delhi: Shortly after thanking Mayawati for her BSP's support in the Uttar Pradesh bypolls, Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief, drove to her home in Lucknow to convey his gratitude in person, setting aside a history of bitterness between the two parties.
- Shortly after thanking Mayawati, Mr Yadav drove to her home
- Mr Yadav handed Mayawati a bouquet and greeted her with folded hands
- The two reportedly spoke for nearly an hour
The Samajwadi Party (SP) snatched two BJP strongholds - Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Gorakhpur and his deputy Keshav Maurya's Phulpur parliamentary seats - with the support of the BSP in a quid pro quo that involves the SP's help to BSP's Rajya Sabha candidates.
"First, I want to thank Mayawati for her and her party's support in this important fight," Akhilesh Yadav said in a press conference in which he also hinted that the BJP may not have come to power in UP last year if his party had partnered with the BSP instead of the Congress.
As supporters celebrated the "bua-bhatija" victory, Akhilesh Yadav's convoy drove from his Vikramaditya Marg residence to the sprawling bungalow of Mayawati a kilometre away.
Wearing a crimson party cap, the former Chief Minister handed Mayawati a bouquet and greeted her with folded hands.
The two reportedly spoke for nearly an hour.
It is not known what they talked about, but reports quote party insiders as saying they discussed a grand alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
For their give-and-take arrangement for the bypolls - dubbed by Yogi Adityanath as an "unnatural tie-up" - to evolve into an alliance, the two parties need to shed historical baggage.
June 2, 1995 marked the lowest point in their short-lived alliance in the past, when Akhilesh Yadav's father Mulayam Singh Yadav was Samajwadi chief.
In 1993, the two parties joined forces to stop the BJP from coming to power in UP and Mulayam Singh became Chief Minister.
But as ties soured, Mayawati called off the alliance two years later, leaving the Samajwadi Party in a minority.
On 2 June, Mayawati was kept captive at the state guest house in Lucknow by Samajwadi supporters, who allegedly misbehaved with her and threatened her. A day after what she has described as the "most humiliating experience of her life", Mayawati formed a new government with BJP support.
More than two decades later, political expediency has again brought the arch rivals together.