Akhilesh reaches out to Mayawati

Development after exit polls favour BJP

Akhilesh reaches out to Mayawati

On a day when exit polls gave an edge to the BJP in the UP election, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav gave strong hints that he was open to a post-election tie-up with the BSP to form a mahagathbandhan to check the saffron surge.

Most exit polls on Thursday projected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the single largest party but stated that it would fall short of the majority mark of 202 needed to form the government on its own in Lucknow. The Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance is expected to turn out second followed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

"No one wants President's rule in the state, so that the BJP runs the government with a remote control," Akhilesh Yadav told BBC Hindi, making it clear that the SP would not hesitate in engaging rival BSP to form the government – as the Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal did in Bihar.

Yet he boasted that the SP-Congress alliance will form the government in Uttar Pradesh on its own.

Outrightly rejecting the SP overtures, the BSP said it was an indication of a party accepting defeat.

Yadav's latest overtures contrast with the position the SP had taken during the campaigning for the seven-phase Assembly election. The chief minister had then cautioned Muslims not to waste their votes as he suspected Mayawati’s BSP of joining hands with the BJP, as it had done twice in the past.     

SP's Rajya Sabha MP jumped to defend the party leader and said, “Akhilesh ji didn't mention BSP or Behenji's name; the aim is to keep communal forces out of the state” as exit polls indicate a hung Assembly. 

BJP's Siddharth Nath Singh, who contested from a seat in Allahabad, said Akhilesh Yadav had "shown his weakness" by giving such a statement and his claim of getting a complete majority has proven false.

Even before the polls, some Congress leaders' attempt to bring together the SP and the BSP to form a grand alliance to repeat the Bihar model had failed. The Congress election managers had floated the idea of SP and BSP taking turns to have their chief ministers for two and a half years each.

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