- "It is obvious that we have to come together," Akhilesh Yadav said
- "Mulayam Singh Yadav has blessed the SP-BSP alliance," he claimed
- BSP's support helped Akhilesh Yadav snatch Gorakhpur, Phulpur from BJP
Speculation has been rife whether the two former arch rivals - who came together for last month's bypolls to produce a shock defeat for the ruling BJP - will be able to sustain their formidable alliance until the Lok Sabha elections.
"It is obvious that we have to come together," Mr Yadav told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
It had helped the Samajwadi Party snatch two Lok Sabha - Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Gorakhpur and his deputy Keshav Maurya's Phulpur parliamentary seats - with the BSP's support.
In exchange, the SP was to help BSP's Rajya Sabha candidate. Akhilesh Yadav did mostly keep his end of the bargain but it wasn't enough to deliver the seat to the BSP. Mayawati had made her displeasure known, but made it clear she wasn't pulling the plug on her party's new ally just yet.
He also revealed how the alliance, which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee believes could be the opposition's template for 2019 elections, crystallised.
Mr Yadav said he had initiated talks to firm up the BSP-SP alliance, using intermediaries in both parties.
He also announced that he will not fight elections for UP's legislative council to be later this month. It is not clear if his party would nominate someone else for the seat or step aside as a goodwill gesture for Mayawati.
His stepping back from the contest could give him an opportunity to help BSP send an additional candidate to the legislative council. Had he fought, the BSP would have been only able to win one seat; now, it may win two.
Mr Yadav brushed aside suggestions that his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, with whom he had been locked in a feud. is still politically estranged.
"Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) has blessed the SP-BSP alliance," he claimed.
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