- Mayawati said her party BSP will contest the upcoming bypolls in UP alone
- Alliance with Samajwadi Party "unfortunately didn't work," she said
- "Not a permanent break," she said, asked Samajwadi Party for improvements
Mayawati today made it official - her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest bypolls to 11 Uttar Pradesh assembly seats alone after her alliance with Akhilesh Yadav flopped in the national election. "We can't ignore political realities," the former Chief Minister said, confirming that she said she was taking a break from her partnership with the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav.
"It is not a permanent break," she explained, asking the Samajwadi Party to bring about improvements in its cadre.
"We had decided to go for an alliance with the Samajwadi Party with an aim to gain ground in Uttar Pradesh, but that unfortunately did not work. We fell well short," said the 63-year-old to reporters a day after a meeting with her party leaders in Delhi to assess the poll debacle.
Akhilesh Yadav, in his first reaction, said his party would also consider contesting on all 11 seats in the bypolls. "We will give a considered response to Mayawati. If the alliance has broken, then we will also consider fighting alone. If we have to go separate ways, then so be it," he said.
Mayawati has clearly blamed the Samajwadi Party for the drubbing, saying its vote base never benefited the BSP.
"We shouldn't have lost our votes. Even strong candidates were defeated. In Kannauj, (Akhilesh Yadav's wife) Dimple Yadav lost. We have to think about this," Mayawati said.
She commented that the Samajwadi Party cadre was not as committed or mission-driven as those of the BSP and said she would review the alliance "if we think the Samajwadi Party can succeed in bringing about these changes in its workers".
If not, she added, "it is better for us to go it alone. It will take time to bring about these changes."
Mayawati said her ties with Akhilesh Yadav went beyond politics, but it would be hard to ignore the political situation.
"Akhilesh-Dimple have respected me and I have also forgotten things in the past and treated them like my own family. We won't make these relations for political gain," she said.
The Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav pairing, despite grabbing much political interest because of their back-story - the decades-old rivalry of their parties and a successful joint campaign in three BJP constituencies last year - failed to win more than 15 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Of the two, Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party lost more; while Mayawati's party managed to go from zero in 2014 to 10 this time, the Samajwadis did not go beyond five seats.
One of the core clauses in their pact was that Akhilesh Yadav would pitch for Mayawati for Prime Minister, while she would in turn help him in his quest to regain the chief minister's post after the 2022 assembly polls.
Sources say Mayawati's hasty exit from the alliance is also driven by her reluctance to hold up her part of the bargain and lose out even on the state level.
For the BSP chief, bypolls to 11 assembly seats - the lawmakers have been elected to the Lok Sabha - are a starting point. Even if it means breaking her own rule of not contesting bypolls.