Mayawati, flashing her prime ministerial ambitions in a neon sign, has said that she "may have to" contest the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh's Ambedkar Nagar "if all goes well". The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, addressing a rally, has given the clearest signal yet that she wants the top job.
"If all goes well, I may have to seek election from here because the road to national politics passes through Ambedkar Nagar," she said, addressing a public rally against a giant cutout of herself in front of the parliament building, captioned "Prime Minister".
Mayawati, 63, has won four Lok Sabha elections from the area, which was Akbarpur before delimitation in 2008, when the Ambedkar Nagar constituency was carved out.
"The era of 'Namo Namo' is over and the time has come for those who chant 'Jai Bhim'," she said, referring to a slogan used by followers of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the architect of the constitution and an iconic leader for Dalits.
In March, the BSP chief had given a similar hint while explaining to her party workers that they should not lose heart at her decision not to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
She said if required, she would contest later from any seat held by her party. "When I became UP Chief Minister the first time in 1995 I was not a member of either the UP Assembly or Council. Similarly there is a provision at the Centre where a person have to be a parliament member within 6 months of holding office of minister/PM. Don't be disheartened from my decision not to contest LS poll now (sic)," she tweeted at the time.
Mayawati's bitter rival turned ally, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, has said more than once that he would back "behenji (as Mayawati is popularly known)" for Prime Minister.
His most recent endorsement was on Sunday, in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him and the Congress of "playing a big game" to trick Mayawati. Those remarks drew strong statements of unity both from Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.
"The gathbandhan will give the country its next Prime Minister and I would be very happy if it comes from the other half of the population (women). If that happens, the Samajwadi Party will give its full support," Akhilesh Yadav said, not taking names.
In January, Akhilesh Yadav, while announcing his alliance with Mayawati, had said he would be "happy if the PM was from his home state (UP)".
PM Modi as well as BJP president Amit Shah have often taunted the opposition saying everyone in that bloc wants to be Prime Minister.