A complex game of thrones is afoot in Uttar Pradesh

Modi has been at it for a while: Earlier, he noted that the "fake friendship of the SP-BSP will end on May 23" and then claimed that Mayawati had not understood that the SP and Congress were playing a "big game" with her.

Voters in Uttar Pradesh, who will likely decide India's prime minister, have a complex task on their hands deciphering comments from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BSP supremo Mayawati.

Days after Priyanka Gandhi ventured to say that Congress candidates were fighting either to win their seats or to damage the BJP’s prospects — and certainly not that of the BSP-SP gathbandhan — Mayawati on Saturday underlined that the gathbandan would do its bit in keeping the BJP out.

"In the interest of nation and the common people and especially to weaken the RSS and BJP, we left Raebareli and Amethi seats for the Congress so that its top two leaders, who are contesting here, do not get stuck up in only these two seats, which could have resulted in more gains to BJP outside Uttar Pradesh," Mayawati said.

This was just a day after Modi, in an apparent bid to drive a wedge between the SP and the BSP, suggested some underhand agreement between the SP and the Congress without the knowledge of "Behenji".

Modi has been at it for a while: Earlier, he noted that the "fake friendship of the SP-BSP will end on May 23" and then claimed that Mayawati had not understood that the SP and Congress were playing a "big game" with her.

While one interpretation is that Modi was trying to drive a wedge between SP and BSP, the greater game could be sending a message to Dalit voters in Poorvanchal that after the poll, the BJP and BSP could come together and hence they should vote for BJP at least in seats where BSP is not contesting, says political analyst Rasheed Kidwai.

"But more than that it shows the nervousness in the BJP camp that they are not getting a majority. So it is ally-hunting. Earlier in the interview to film star Akshay Kumar, he talked of the gifts he receives from Mamata Banerjee." Kidwai said.

A tie-up with BSP or even an impression of some soft agreement between the two could work to the advantage of the BJP, which keeps fighting the perception of being anti-Dalit.

And, like everyone else, the BJP could use a post-poll ally, either directly supporting it or extending issue-based support, something which BJD had done. Both Mamata and Mayawati had worked with the BJP in the past. In fact, Mayawati had become CM of UP twice with the support of the BJP.

This time Mayawati, down in the dumps after scoring a duck in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, has seriously attempted to create OBC-Dalit and Muslim unity to effect a turnaround of her party's fortunes.

Sensing the BJP strategy, which could confuse Dalit voters and shift them towards BJP and also some Muslim votes to Congress, Mayawati departed from her trademark style ahead of the fifth phase of polls to announce the gathbandhan’s support to Congress in Amethi and Raebareli.

She also accused the prime minister of pursuing a "phoot daalo, raj karo (divide and rule)" policy, while Akhilesh Yadav claimed that this is because BJP is "lagging behind in previous phases of elections".

But who is dividing whom and who will go where is something that will only be clear after May 23, when the votes are counted.

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