The opposition 'gathbandhan' in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday looked set to unravel with BSP chief Mayawati declaring her party will fight the assembly bypolls alone and SP president Akhilesh Yadav responding quickly to say he will do the same if they go different ways.
In a statement 10 days after the defeat of the alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, Mayawati said she can work with the SP in future if Yadav is able to "fulfil his duties".
Reacting to the statement, Yadav told reporters in Ghazipur, "Even if our paths are different, we welcome it." "If the alliance ends, we will field SP candidates on all 11 seats up for bypolls after consulting party leaders soon," Yadav said, adding that he will deliberate on the issue very carefully.
Mayawati, who wrested the initiative on the matter, said the Bahujan Samaj Party's relationship with the Samajwadi Party is not going to end and she will try to ensure their relationship stays intact.
"On the other hand, political compulsions cannot be ignored completely and everyone knows that," Mayawati told the media in the national capital. The BJP won 62 of 80 seats in the state while the 'gathbandhan', which saw two arch-rivals come together for the elections, bagged just 15 with the BSP winning 10 and the SP five. The Congress got one seat and the Apna Dal (S) two. In 2014, the BSP could not even manage one seat.
Eleven assembly bypolls are due in UP after the respective MLAs won the Lok Sabha polls. While nine BJP MLAs emerged victorious in the LS polls, one each from the BSP and the SP were elected to the lower house.
"The bypolls can be announced any moment now. Under current conditions, in Uttar Pradesh, we have decided to fight the bypolls - which will happen on some seats - all alone," Mayawati said.
It will be the first time in 10 years that the BSP will contest an assembly bypoll. "If I feel the SP president is able to fulfil his duties and convert his people into missionaries, then we can still walk together in future. There has been no permanent break as of now," Mayawati said.
If he is unable to succeed in his task, it will be better for the party to walk alone, she added. The BSP chief called a review meeting in New Delhi on Monday to analyse the Lok Sabha results.
"...I have to say with much sadness that the SP's base vote - means 'Yadav samaj' - has not stood along with the SP even in areas where they are in high numbers," Mayawati said. "... Dimple Yadav, Dharmendra Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav have lost elections from Kannauj, Badaun and Firozabad, respectively, and it has made us think a lot," she added.
As speculation mounted over the future of the alliance, Yadav said what is important at the moment is the issue of the killings of its workers. "At this point of time, the 'gathbandhan' is not important for us. What is more important is that the family of our slain party worker should get justice...I am more concerned over the killing of our workers," he said in Ghazipur where he went to visit the residence of SP worker Vijay Yadav who was killed by unidentified assailants in his house on May 24.