Lucknow: With exit polls predicting a hung Assembly, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday did not completely rule out a post-poll tie-up with the BSP to prevent BJP from coming to power in the state.
As exit polls indicated the BJP emerging as the largest single party in the key cow belt state but falling short of the magic figure of 202 in the 403-member House, Akhilesh told BBC he was open to "all possibilities" to prevent the saffron party from coming to power.
"No one will want President's rule imposed in the state and BJP run the government through the remote control.
"SP-Congress will get enough seats, will form government on its own. But if required let us see," he said.
Replying to a question about whether he was ready for a post-poll alliance with the BSP, Akhilesh said, "I will not yet speak about alliance. Samajwadi Party and Congress will get enough seats to form the government.
"However, as I have always referred to the BSP chief as a relative, it is natural for people to think we might take their help or might go with them.... But it is difficult to say this as of now". Akhilesh, also the Samajwadi Party president, has always referred to Mayawati as 'Buaji' (aunt).
With the counting of votes barely two days away, the SP president's remark is likely to trigger speculation about the possibility of a realignment of political parties.
Throughout the bitter, recrimination-filled campaign, Mayawati never attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who had a word of praise for the BSP chief when he said his respect for her was intact. He had said he considered BJP and not BSP dangerous for the country.
When reached for comments, senior Congress leader Sanjay Singh said it was better not to say anything about it "at this stage".
At loggerheads for many years now, SP and BSP had contested the 1993 assembly elections in alliance.
In the 425-member house (before the creation of Uttarkhand), the SP-BSP alliance had won 176 seats and formed the government under Mulayam Singh Yadav with outside support of the then Janata Dal and Congress.
However, in 1995, Mayawati withdrew support and the Mulayam Singh Yadav government was reduced to minority. Led by some SP MLAs and MPs, angry party supporters descended on the guest house on Mirabai Marg in Lucknow which the BSP leader was occupying.
Mayawati, who was staying in Room no 1, and some other BSP leaders, were assaulted by furious Mulayam supporters as security personnel deployed there looked the other way.
Some five BSP MLAs were allegedly taken forcibly to the CM's residence and "coerced" into signing letters extending support to Mulayam Singh Yadav. A few "terrified" MLAs reportedly even signed on blank papers given to them.
Brahamdutt Dwivedi of the BJP was said to have reached the guest house and "saved" Mayawati, paving the way for her forming the government for the first time with the outside support of the saffron party. The government barely lasted four months.
Making light of Akhilesh Yadav's statement, BJP state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya said that the SP chief has conceded defeat even before the results were out by hinting at joining hands with the BSP.
He said the SP-Congress and the BSP had indirectly ganged up against the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh elections.
He expressed hope that the BJP will win over 300 seats and form a government with overwhelming majority