Mayawati will not come to Delhi today for any meetings with opposition leaders, her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has said, contradicting reports about her meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi, which was seen as a significant step in opposition consolidation moves.
"Mayawati ji has no programme or meetings scheduled in Delhi today, she will be in Lucknow," Mayawati's top aide Satish Chandra Mishra told news agency ANI on Monday, a day after most exit polls predicted that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would return with a clear majority.
Hours later, the BSP chief met with her alliance partner Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. "Not now, if I will have to speak, I will speak later," Mr Yadav told the media, when asked about the meeting and the exit polls which have predicted that the opposition alliance or gathbandhan may not be able to stop the march of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Reports had suggested that Mayawati was to meet the Gandhis ahead of the national election result on Thursday, May 23. The meeting, said the reports, had been arranged at the instance of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has been the go-between. Mr Naidu met with Mayawati in Lucknow and also held discussions with Rahul Gandhi twice. The Telugu Desam Party leader met with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi on Sunday and is expected to talk today to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had yesterday dismissed "exit poll gossip".
If he does manage to get Mayawati to talk to the Gandhis, it will be quite a feat. The BSP chief spent much of her national election campaign targeting the Congress in the same breath as the BJP, unable to get past the huge disagreement over seat-sharing for December state polls.
After voting ended in a massive month-and-a-half long election on Sunday, several exit polls on television channels projected an NDA landslide and another term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the BJP and its allies are predicted to win 303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the Congress and its allies have been given 122 and parties that are not with any of the two combines so far are said to be looking at a score of 117.
The exit polls also suggest that Mayawati and her rival-turned-alliance partner Akhilesh Yadav may take around 30 seats in 80-seat Uttar Pradesh, significantly reducing the BJP's tally from its 2014 sweep of 71; the ruling party may win enough seats in Bengal and Odisha to offset the loss.
Health warning: Exit polls often get it wrong.
Sources say Mayawati may be waiting for the actual results before her next move. For now, exit poll predictions present a grim scenario for the opposition bloc.
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