A life-size cut-out of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been replaced overnight at the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow. His replacement? Mulayam Singh, the party's 77-year-old founder, whose son Akhilesh Yadav is running for a second consecutive term as Chief Minister.
- Rahul Gandhi alliance partner of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
- Exit polls show BJP likely to win Uttar Pradesh
- Rahul Gandhi removed from publicity material at Akhilesh's office
His insistence on allying with the Congress was one of the reasons for an epic war between Akhilesh Yadav and his father that placed their party dangerously close to splitting ahead of the election in Uttar Pradesh, seen as a bellwether for the national election of 2019.
They managed to reconcile- just about- in time for the campaign, and the Chief Minister conducted some public meetings accompanied by Rahul Gandhi, the 46-year-old Vice President of the Congress.
At the Samajwadi Party office, slogans that bound the two young leaders together have also disappeared.
Exit polls show the BJP ahead of the competition, some give it a strong majority, the poll of exit polls (an aggregate) gives the party 211 of 403 seats.
As the forecasts were broadcast, Akhilesh Yadav said that he was open to a new partnership with rival Mayawati, whom he displaced as Chief Minister in 2012. She has not commented on his revelation, but the BJP described it as a sign of the Samajwadi Party's "desperation."
The Congress, which has sequentially lost key states since the general election of 2014, has been reduced to a bit player in Uttar Pradesh; the collaboration with the Samajwadi Party which made it a junior partner helped rescue it from the sidelines to some extent.