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Mayawati and Mulayam Share Stage after Two Decades

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Overcoming more than two decades of political and personal rivalry, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Friday sought votes for Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav in his turf Mainpuri, hailing him as the “real and true leader” of the backward classes. Sharing the stage almost after 25 years at a SP-BSP rally, the two former Chief Ministers and sworn rivals marked a remarkable shift in Uttar Pradesh politics.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who was also on stage, said it was a “historic” moment that Ms. Mayawati was seeking votes for his father.

Guest House Scandal

On June 1, 1995, Mulayam, who was then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, was informed that the BSP was about to pull the plug on his coalition government. The SP-BSP coalition government was only a year and a half old then.

The following evening, on June 2, some SP MLAs and district-level leaders reached the State Guest House in Lucknow, where Mayawati, Kanshi Ram’s closest aide and then general secretary of the BSP, was meeting her MLAs to discuss their next step. MLAs and workers of the SP surrounded the guest house and went on the rampage, forcing Mayawati to lock herself in a room while they detained several of her MLAs, claiming they had defected to the SP.

Paradigm Change

But in a sharp contrast to that era, on Friday, Ms. Mayawati pitched for Mr. Mulayam Singh’s cycle symbol and hailed him as a “real and true OBC” leader, unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom she dubbed a “fake and false” OBC.

Mayawati was seated in middle of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. The SP patron reciprocated the sentiment and asked an SP leader, who had bent to touch his feet, to accord the same respect to Ms. Mayawati who was seated beside him. She mentioned Guest House Scandal in her speech and said that there are no friends and enemies in politics only political interests that matter.

Ms. Mayawati also appealed to the voters to not fall for the inducements and promises made by the BJP and the Congress, and especially targeted the NYAY or minimum income scheme. She said a little financial help won’t do them good and promised that if the BSP came to power, she would create means for providing them stable government and non-government sector jobs.

Mr. Singh has won the Mainpuri seat four times — in 1996, 2004, 2009 and 2014. Since 2004, in five elections won by the SP here, including two bypolls, the main opponent has come from the Shakya (OBC) caste. And this time also the BJP has picked a Shakya — Prem Singh Shakya — to take on the Yadav patriarch.

In the 2014 bypoll, after Mulayam Singh decided to retain Azamgarh, his grand-nephew Tej Pratap defeated Prem Singh by a margin of 3.30 lakh.

However, 22 years on, the wheel has turned in a manner that today, Mayawati and Mulayam joined forces to attack the BJ

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