Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi were seen hugging in what became a defining image amid opposition bonhomie.
Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav finally made it official today – their alliance for the national election would not include the Congress as they didn't expect much dividend from the party. For the Congress, which has pitched for a grand opposition alliance to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national election, it is an epic snub driven home by Mayawati's sharp words and Akhilesh Yadav's pointed silence.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader said it was "well known" that her party as well as Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party would not benefit from tying up with the Congress.
"Past experience tells us that the Congress can't transfer votes to us. Maybe it's a conspiracy by the Congress to transfer votes to the BJP," said Mayawati.
"We ensure that votes are transferred to the Congress but they don't reciprocate. We experienced this in 1996, when we tied up with the Congress and the Samajwadi Party had the same experience in the 2017 assembly polls," she said.
"We have decided that we will not tie up with a party like the Congress across the country, where they can't transfer votes to us. In contrast, the Samajwadi-BSP tie-ups in the last year have led to vote transfers both ways."
In 2017, Akhilesh Yadav joined hands with the Congress for the Uttar Pradesh election but the alliance – glamourised by posters of Akhilesh Yadav and Congress president Rahul Gandhi as "UP ke ladke (UP boys)" – failed to sway voters and he lost power.
Mayawati also said "the Congress and the BJP, both are guilty of corruption in defence deals", perhaps the unkindest cut at a time Rahul Gandhi has been relentlessly targeting PM Modi on the Rafale jet deal.
She also referred to the Emergency in 1975-77, declared by the Congress government which jailed several opposition leaders and imposed restrictions on the media.
"The current atmosphere in the country is not different from the Emergency. The only thing is that the Congress had declared an Emergency while this is an undeclared emergency under the BJP," she said.
Soon after, the BJP took a dig on social media at the Congress by tweeting an image of Mayawati and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi during the Karnataka oath ceremony last year.
The two leaders were photographed hugging and bumping foreheads in what became a defining image amid opposition bonhomie.
Months later, Mayawati changed her tune as her seat-sharing negotiations with the Congress for the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh elections yielded no common ground.
"The BJP and Congress and naagnath and saapnath (both snakes)," she declared as she declared the talks a failure.