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Akhilesh meets Maya to thank her

Door ajar on future course

Akhilesh Yadav leaves after meeting Mayawati at her Lucknow home on Wednesday. (PTI)

Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav met Mayawati at her residence in Lucknow on Wednesday evening to thank her for supporting the Samajwadi Party candidates, marking the first such meeting between the two leaders.

"I want to thank Mayawatiji for transferring her party's votes to the SP candidates. It was an important fight against those who have been cheating the people in the name of nationalism. The Dalit brothers have helped us in the war against such forces," Akhilesh had said earlier in the day.

A Samajwadi source said it was a courtesy call "to express his gratitude to Mayawati and keep the option of future alliance with the BSP open".

Asked about the possibility of a broader Opposition alliance, Ram Gopal Varma, MP and an uncle of Akhilesh, was quoted by PTI as saying in Delhi: "Wait and watch."

P.L. Punia, a Congress leader, claimed that his party could also be a part of a non-BJP alliance in future.

Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who had said before the March 11 bypolls that the BJP would dislodge " babua and bua", said after the defeat that "overconfidence" was the reason for the loss.

During the 2017 Assembly election campaign, Akhilesh used to refer to Mayawati as " bua (father's sister)". The BSP boss in return would call him Mulayam's "babua (toddler)".

"It was our overconfidence which defeated us," Adityanath said on Wednesday. "It is an unexpected result. We had worked hard. But the opportunist friendship of the SP and the BSP won. We will not let this happen in 2019 general election."

Adityanath had claimed before the bypolls that the friendship between the BSP and the SP was a mismatch. He had quoted a couplet by the Akbar-era poet Rahim: " Kah Rahim kaise nibhe ker-ber ko sang (Rahim asks how the banana and the jujube can go together)."

Trying to recover from the shock of the defeat, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said: "The voters of the BJP didn't turn up at the poling booths. They were under the impression that we were winning comfortably in the two seats."

Mahendra Nath Pandey, the BJP's Uttar Pradesh president, has gone to Delhi to explain the reasons behind the defeat of his candidates.

So deep was the loss that in in Phulpur - once represented by Jawaharlal Nehru - even the 48,094 votes bagged by a Muslim candidate who was suspected to have been fielded to divide the anti-BJP votes could not save the ruling party. The Samajwadi candidate still romped home by a margin of 59,460 votes.

Chief minister Adityanath had addressed as many as 16 rallies in the two bypoll seats. In half-a-dozen rallies, he had referred to Holi and Friday prayers falling on the same day this year. "Holi comes once in a year but Jumah comes 52 times," he had said.

His stamp and civil aviation minister Nand Gopal Nandi had said that when Lord Ram was asked what his name would be in Kalyug, the Lord had replied he would be born as Narendra Modi.

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