Mayawati's top aide denied reports today that her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav have all but sealed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 national election, leaving the Congress out.
The reports quoted sources as saying the two parties -- rivals who realized their combined power during the by-polls in UP earlier this year -- had been in seat-sharing talks for almost a year and had finalized a formula that would be announced on Mayawati's birthday on January 15.
"Till now whatever has come today in the newspaper or on TV, we don't know from where it has come, who is the source. There has been nothing like this, there are no discussions at this point," said senior BSP leader Satish Mishra.
NDTV asked Mr Mishra to confirm reports that Mayawati would have "non-Congress, non-BJP guests" on her birthday, as a preview of an opposition alliance for the general election.
"It can never be correct. It has never been like this. And birthdays are not celebrated in this manner. So this is news, again from the news," the BSP leader said.
Sources say Mayawati, who turns 63 next month, will have a birthday celebration that is "open to all" who want to wish her and has not sent out any invites.
The Congress reacted to the reports saying it would like an alliance with the BSP and Samajwadi Party with "respectable seats" in UP. "Our leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have always showed personal courtesies towards Mayawati and the SP leadership and that will be reflected in extending birthday greetings," said a top leader.
Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav's mixed signals for the Congress have left everyone guessing.
While their support helped the Congress close the gap in Madhya Pradesh after emerging the largest party but stopping short of a majority, they skipped the three Congress oath ceremonies that featured a galaxy of opposition leaders.
Akhilesh Yadav, whose alliance with Rahul Gandhi - along with the catchy tagline "UP ke ladke (UP boys)" - failed to click in the Uttar Pradesh election last year, was also openly dismissive of MK Stalin's proposal to name Rahul Gandhi as the opposition's prime ministerial candidate. "Someone's opinion does not have to be the alliance's opinion too," Mr Yadav said yesterday.
Though she did support the Congress after the election, before it Mayawati snubbed the party and called off tie-up talks. She went as far as clubbing the Congress and the BJP together as "Saanpnath and Naagnath (snakes)".
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