Samajwadi Party politician Ram Govind Chaudhary - the leader of the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly - stood with folded hands.
When the Bahujan Samaj Party boss stepped out of the huge gate, he bowed low thrice. Mayawati, who stood straight, responded with folded hands.
BSP President Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Govind Chaudhary exchange greetings in Lucknow on Wednesday. Photo: PTI.
It was afternoon on Wednesday and Samajwadi candidates had already established a steady lead in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
Chaudhary, sent by his party chief Akhilesh Yadav to thank Mayawati for successfully transferring her BSP's votes to the Samajwadi candidates, later explained why he was there.
"I am here to say thank you to Behenji (Mayawati) and look forward to developing our relation further," Chaudhary said without specifying whether this understanding in the parliamentary bypolls would grow into an electoral alliance between the heartland twins, bitter rivals till recently.
Mayawati was on her way to the house of BSP legislative party leader Lalji Verma to offer condolences when Chaudhary met her. Verma's 40-year-old son Vikas, who had survived a suicide attempt last year, had shot himself dead on Wednesday. In January, he wrote on Facebook that he suffered from irritable bowel syndrome and doctors were not able to treat him.
Not known for visiting the houses of party colleagues, the BSP chief rushed to Verma's residence in Gomti Nagar. She later addressed a small meeting of party leaders.
BSP sources said Mayawati told the meeting she was open to a non-BJP alliance for the 2019 general election if her party was offered a respectable number of seats.
"Respectable means at least 40 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats," a BSP leader said but asked not to be named.
The leader said Mayawati, sitting at home, had appealed to her supporters to vote for the Samajwadi candidate and got 100 per cent result. "That is her talisman, which will turn the Hindu politics of the BJP upside down in 2019."
Samajwadi spokesperson Jagdev Singh Yadav recalled a slogan from 1993 when the Samajwadi and the BSP had contested Assembly elections together. " Mile Mulayam-Kanshi Ram, hawa ho gae Jai Shri Ram (Ram evaporated when Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram met)," he recalled.
"Although Kanshi Ram, the BSP founder, is dead, and Mulayam, the Samajwadi patron, is taking rest at home, the unity of Mayawati and Akhilesh would do wonders in the future," Yadav said.
Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who had won by over three lakh votes from Phulpur in 2014 before he vacated the seat, looked crestfallen. "We couldn't judge the impact of the BSP's support to the SP," he said.
Two days ago, the BJP leader had said "Mayawati has failed to transfer her votes to the SP".
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy lashed out at chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who too had won by over three lakh votes in Gorakhpur in 2014.
"We have lost there under the leadership of the chief minister. The party must convene a meeting of the national executive and allow the leaders to speak out," Swamy said.
Sources said the BSP's cluster meetings proved superior to the door-to-door campaign against "anti-social, anti-national forces" conducted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the two parliamentary constituencies that voted on March 11.
They said BSP leaders did not share the dais with Samajwadi leaders. But while Mayawati's Dalit voters reunited on her call to vote for the Samajwadi candidate, the RSS slogan of "Hindu unity" crumbled.
Mohan Bhagwat had held a six-day meeting of the cadres of the RSS in Varanasi, 120km from Phulpur and 199km from Gorakhpur, in the third week of February and asked them to work selflessly for Hindu unity and the BJP without expecting anything in return.
-The Telegraph Calcutta
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