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More about optics at Mainpuri rally as cadres of BSP, SP mirror bonhomie of leaders

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 19, 2019  | 20:43 IST

By Abhishek Shukla (Eds: WITH PIX) Mainpuri, Apr 19 (PTI) As BSP supremo Mayawati and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav buried their hatchet after 24 years to come together at an election rally here on Friday, the bonhomie was not just restricted to the dais. The significance of the moment was not lost on the cadres of Lohia Vahini, an arm of Samajwadi Party, and Bahujan Voluntary Forces of BSP which used to engage in bitter turf war before the SP-BSP alliance was stitched. Both sides were seen working in unison to ensure smooth conduct of the rally for what Mulayam himself said was his last election. "We have no problem working with Lohia Vahini people and other SP workers. They are respecting us and we are respecting them. We are working together to make this event a success," Sachin, a student and member of BVF, said. He was present along with five others, all students, from his village in Mainpuri. They have joined as volunteers and are often tasked with rally and event management. 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. But for the poll arithmetic to work, the leaders of the two parties, which were earlier arch-rivals, understand that the cadres have to come on board. In his speech, Mulayam Singh Yadav told his supporters to always respect "Mayawati ji' who has come to seek votes for him in his last election. Mayawati too returned the favour calling him a "true leader" of the backward communities. "There is no problem. I am in touch with people in areas where voting has been done. Voters for both sides are voting for Gathbandhan (SP-BSP-RLD alliance) ," Rakesh who was part of the crowd, said. Jaiprakash from Kisni, located 35 km from here, studies in Kannauj and is a volunteer of BVF. The 20-year-old said there were 175 BVF volunteers managing the affair. SP worker Lokesh from Etawah said there is no problem working with BVF volunteers. "They are very disciplined and we both are helping each other for the event," he said. Huge posters of icons Jyotiba Phule, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Charan Singh and Ram Manohar Lohia were erected across the ground. One could see supporters wearing BSP caps and SP caps sitting together. SP supporters were even distributing blue BSP caps. "We are all Gathbandhan supporters. We are supporting Mulayam Singh ji in Mainpuri and have asked our relatives and acquaintance to support BSP candidates in their area," Govind, a farmer from Kisni, said. Asked if have they forgotten the rivalry between the SP and the BSP, his friend Pratap said, "At times such issue crop up among friends, relatives, villagers but once everything is sorted out people shake hands". The ground which was lying half empty till 12 noon was filled within half-an-hour with crimson and blue sea. All hell broke loose as the crowd spotted the chopper of Mayawati. Amidst chants of "Sapa Basapa aaye hai, nayi umeed layi hai" and slogans hailing the SP and BSP leaders, Mayawati reached the stage. Volunteers of BVF and SP had a tough time as the crowd took over the media podium to get a glimpse of the leaders. Youngsters were seen climbing poles, unmindful of the fact that the the entire tent may collapse. The coolers installed to bring relief in hot weather were damaged in the melee. Mayawati stood up to receive 79-year old Mulayam Singh Yadav who came on the stage supported by his aides. With smile on their faces, both leaders along with Mulayam's son and SP President Akhilesh Yadav waved at the crowd before taking their seats. Tej Pratap Yadav, the sitting MP from Mainpuri, presented a silver elephant as memento to Mayawati and touched her feet to seek blessings. "I will never forget this gesture," Mulayam Singh Yadav told Mayawati who urged people to vote for the SP patriarch saying he was "a true leader of backward communities unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi", who she alleged "misused government machinery to list his caste among backwards". Before leaving, Akhilesh Yadav introduced Mayawati's nephew Akash Anand, also considered by many as her possible political successor, to Mulayam Singh Yadav who blessed him by touching his forehead. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had formed a coalition government in Uttar Pradesh in 1993 to keep the BJP away from power, but a1995 incident when Mayawati was allegedly assaulted by SP cadres in VVIP Guest House in Lucknow turned them into bitter rivals. During the rally, Mayawati defended her decision to join hands with the SP. "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 country, we have decided to contest this election in alliance with the SP in Uttar Pradesh," she said. Mulayam's younger brother Shivpal Yadav, who has now parted ways with the SP after differences with Akhilesh, said that the alliance was only in name as the leaders of the two parties do not trust each other. "Neither Netaji (Mulayam) trusts Mayawati, nor she trusts him. Who will take guarantee that she will not go with the BJP if the need arises," he said. PTI ABS RT

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