Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Thursday said her party would vote for any other political outfit, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, in order to ensure the defeat of the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party in the upcoming elections to the Upper House of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, and the Rajya Sabha.

Her comments come amid speculations that some of her party MLAs could jump ship and join Yadav’s party ahead of the two elections. She also said that her decision to join hands with the Samajwadi Party ahead of last year’s General Elections was a “mistake” and that she should not have withdrawn a 1995 case against Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi shared Mayawati’s statement and asked: “Is there anything left even now?”

On Wednesday, six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs met Yadav and hinted at switching sides, reported PTI. Four of them filed an affidavit saying that their signatures were forged in the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate Ramji Gautam’s nomination papers. However, Gautam’s nomination has since been accepted. On Thursday, Mayawati also suspended seven rebel legislators of the party, who opposed Gautam’s nomination.

However, the suspended MLAs have denied any plans of joining another party.

“It is the prerogative of the party president to take whatever action she feels is right but we are not joining any other party,” Aslam Raini, one of the rebels, told reporters on Thursday, according to PTI.

Another MLA Hakim Lal Bind welcomed the decision and said “time will tell whether we have to meet the BJP, Samajwadi Party or Mayawati.” Asked if they will be taking legal action for misuse of their signatures, Bind said that they will act only if BSP takes any such action against them. Another rebel legislator, Sushma Patel, who had accepted that she met Yadav on Wednesday, said that meeting a political leader is not a crime.

Elections to 10 Uttar Pradesh seats in the Upper House of the Parliament are to be held on 9 November. According to NDTV, Mayawati’s party does not have the numbers but its leaders have indicated that they may get support of other non-BJP parties.

On the other hand, 11 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council will become vacant in January. Six of the sitting members on these seats are from Samajwadi Party, three from BJP and two from Mayawati’s party. According to Aaj Tak, BJP has got the numbers to win eight or nine of these seats.

Uttar Pradesh has a bicameral legislature and consists of a Legislative Assembly and a Legislative Council, which acts as the Upper House.

SP-BSP feud

The feud between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj party however is not a recent one and entered a new chapter after they briefly came together ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only to split ways a month after the results.

In fact, the two parties had parted ways back in 1995 following the “guest house case”, which Mayawati referred to on Thursday.

The incident took place on June 2, 1995, when Mayawati had withdrawn support from the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, reducing it to a minority. Following her decision, MLAs and workers of the Samajwadi Party surrounded a guest house in Lucknow, where Mayawati was staying, forcing her to lock herself in a room while they detained several of her MLAs, claiming they had defected.

The two parties came together in 2019 with an aim to defeat the BJP, following which Mayawati withdrew the case against Mulayam. On Thursday, however, she said that it was a “mistake” and that her party should have “thought deeply” about the decision.

Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had broken off their alliance after a poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. Mayawati’s party had won 10 of 38 seats it contested, while Yadav’s outfit recorded a victory on 5 out of 37 seats.