Akhilesh Yadav, dumped by Mayawati after their alliance flopped in the national election, sought to explain it away as an experiment that had failed but had exposed weaknesses. Unlike the Bahujan Samaj Party chief, he avoided calling time on the gathbandhan just yet, saying he would consult with his party on the future.
"I have been a science student. There are trials and sometimes trials fail. But at least you realise what the shortcomings are. But today also I will say what I said when we announced the gathbandhan - respect to Mayawati-ji is respect to me," the Samajwadi Party leader told reporters.
"And as far as the gathbandhan is concerned, if we have to fight alone in the Uttar Pradesh by-polls, I will consult my party leaders on our future strategy," said Akhilesh Yadav.
On Tuesday, Mayawati announced a break from the gathbandhan, saying she would review the decision "if the Samajwadi Party can bring about improvements in its cadre."
She announced that her party would contest bypolls to 11 UP seats solo. The seats fell vacant after the lawmakers were elected to parliament. In her attempt at separation, Mayawati is also doing something she hasn't done before - contesting byelections.
The Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav combo failed to replicate the success of bypolls last year, managing only 15 of UP's 80 seats, far less than the BJP's rich haul of 62.
Mayawati has blamed it on the Samajwadi Party's failure to transfer its vote base to her BSP. However, her party made more gains - from zero in 2014, the BSP rose to 10 seats.
The Samajwadi Party retained its five seats. Analysts say while Mayawati gained from Samajwadi's Muslim voters, her Dalit base didn't help Akhilesh Yadav's party at all.