Ending their 24-year-long rivalry to take on the BJP, BSP supremo Mayawati shared the stage with Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav here on Friday and sought votes for him, saying he was a "real leader" of the backwards "unlike" Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom she dubbed as "farzi" (fake).
After two years in a coalition government in Uttar Pradesh, the SP and BSP had parted ways in 1995 when Mayawati was allegedly assaulted by SP cadres in VVIP Guest House in Lucknow. The two leader did not see each other eye to eye ever since.
Addressing a rally jointly with the BSP supremo in the SP citadel of Mainpuri from where he is contesting, Yadav called his party workers and supporters to "always respect Mayawati ji", reflecting the changed atmosphere.
But the 1995 incident was clearly weighing on her mind as Mayawati defended her alliance with the SP saying "sometimes we have to take such difficult decisions in the interest of the country, public and party movement".
"There is no doubt that Mulayam Singh ji has taken members of all sections of society especially other backwards classes along with him under the SP banner and they consider him as their only and true leader... he is not a 'naqli' or 'farzi' backward (leader) like Narendra Modi...," the BSP supremo said in her speech after a rousing reception by surging crowds, comprising mainly of Samajwadi Party supporters, at the Christian College ground.
The glacial wall that existed between the two leader since 1995 melted in the hot summer afternoon as a smiling Mayawati earlier stood up to welcome a very feeble-looking 79-year Mulayam Singh Yadav who came on stage with support from close aides.
Wearing her signature cream coloured salwar suit, Mayawati was flanked by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and SP President Akhilesh Yadav on either side on the dais.
As an SP MLA bowed before Mayawati touching her feet, the SP patron, who was the first one to speak, said, "I and Mayawatiji are on the same dais after a long time". He said he welcomes Mayawati who has come to seek votes for him in his last elections which is he is contesting because of the wishes of the people.
In her speech, Mayawati attacked Modi, alleging he "misused government machinery" to list his upper caste into "backward category" during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat.
Mayawati said she did not want to "waste time" by explaining reasons behind stitching an alliance with Samajwadi Party even after the treatment meted out to her during the government of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
"I know people must be wondering why I have come here to campaign for Mulayam Singhji despite the State Guest House case.
"In the interest of the country, public and party movement, sometimes we have to take such difficult decisions. Keeping this thought and seeing the present circumstances in the country we have decided to contest this election in alliance with the SP in Uttar Pradesh," the Bahujan Samaj Party leader said.
"He (Mulayam) is not a false and fake member of backward community like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mulayam Singh ji is original, real and from backward community by birth. It is very well known that Narendra Modi during his tenure in Gujarat misused his government machinery to bring his forward caste into list of backward classes," she alleged.
The BSP president fumbled while ending the speech and raised the customary 'Jai Bhim' slogan of her party. However, she quickly added "Jai Lohia' slogan of Samajwadi Party.
Riding on Ram Temple issue, the BJP had in 1991 secured a comfortable win in the Uttar Pradesh assembly. After mid-term elections in 1993, masters of realpolitik, the then BSP supremo Kanshiram and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav managed to form a coalition government and kept BJP out of power even though it had emerged as a single largest party.
Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had announced their tie-up for Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh after the success of the arrangement against the BJP in bypolls. The BSP had failed to open its account in the 2014 general elections while the SP had won just five seats in the polls that were swept by the BJP.
The BJP had also trounced the two parties in the 2017 assembly election