In a historic move, arch-rival supremos of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati – came together to join hands on stage in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district on Friday during campaigning for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The move is significant because in the third phase, 10 seats going to polls on 23 April will be in central Uttar Pradesh, a bastion of the Yadav voter base of the SP. The support of Mulayam Singh Yadav for his son Akhilesh Yadav is also significant because so far the senior Yadav has publicly opposed the move of forming an alliance with Mayawati.

“Mainpuri is our district and the people are our people. Today Mayawati ji is here and we welcome her and I will not forget this. I appeal to you that Mayawati ji should always be respected because whenever the need has arisen, she has supported us. We are very happy that she is here today to support us," SP leader Mulayam Singh told the crowd at Mainpuri.

Singh also added that the poor are unhappy and women are being discriminated against and ill treated. “We have raised questions in the Lok Sabha and we are happy that all leaders have accepted it and stated that this kind of discrimination against women will not be allowed. You should elect us with full majority. And this is my request to all of you."

Taking over the dais from Singh, Mayawati asserted that despite the “2 June 1995 guesthouse scandal," both parties had come together to fight the LS elections.

“There is no doubt that under his (Mulayam Singh’s) leadership and under the SP banner, people of all strata of society have come together and he has taken along people of all other backward classes. PM Narendra Modi, when he was the chief minister in Gujarat, had worked only for the benefit of the upper classes masquerading as backward classes. He portrayed himself as belonging to the backward classes, misused it in the past elections and became the PM," Mayawati added, taking a swipe at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BSP supremo said that “unlike PM Modi, Mulayam Singh does not make false promises and does not come from a false background either. Mulayam ji is a true leader and has a pedigree."

Commenting on the gathbandhan, Mayawati added that “for the sake of the people and for the sake of the party, we have to sometimes take decisions which we need to put at the forefront to decide what is best given the present circumstances of the country. That is why in UP, we have decided to join hands with the SP to contest these elections."

Throwing light on the situation of unemployment in the state, Mayawati added that not only were there no jobs in the state but “jobs vacancies for the backward classes, which are lying vacant and are not being filled and unemployment is steadily increasing. These people, in these elections, must decide between who is fake and who is not. And you need not be conned by such fake leaders and see who is willing to work for their betterment."

Taking a dig at the Congress party and the former United Progressive Alliance government, Mayawati added that the party’s decisions in both the Centre and the state had caused the party to fail and therefore led them to be voted out by the people.

“And just like that, the BJP’s “naatakbazi" of chowkidari and fake promises will not cut any ice with the people," she added.