In a video published by ANI, Mayawati said the BSP had not fielded candidates for the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypolls, and that party members would "exercise their vote" to defeat the BJP candidate.

Special Correspondent

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati anouncement tacitly on Sunday her party’s support to the Samajwadi Party (SP) in bypolls to a couple of Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and two more important elections this year raised eyebrows to political pandits as her move could upset BJP.

But she made it clear that the understanding for the bypolls, the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha and the UP legislative council elections in March-April should not be read as an alliance for the 2019 parliamentary polls.

Party leaders Ghanshyam Chand Kharwar and Ashok Gautam gave ample indication about the “strongest candidate” earlier in the day when they announced that the BSP will support the Samajwadi nominees in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, where bypolls are slated for March 11.

The BSP has not put up candidates in the two constituencies that Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Maurya represented respectively in Parliament.

They vacated the seats when the BJP high command made Adityanath the chief minister and Maurya his deputy after the party’s emphatic victory in the 2017 assembly elections.

A senior BSP leader, who did not wish to be named, said the understanding was reached after several rounds of talks between BSP national general secretary SC Mishra and his SP counterpart Ram Gopal Yadav.

The deal extended to the Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections was sealed after the approval of Mayawati and SP national president Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday, he said.

Mayawati said: “I will like to make it clear that if there is a pre-poll alliance between BSP and SP for the general elections, it will not be a hush-hush affair. It will be an open one.”

According to Samajwadi leader Prahlad Yadav, the current understanding could repeat a feat that a pre-poll alliance between SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP founder Kanshi Ram achieved in the 1993 assembly polls. The two parties defeated the ruling BJP.

Mayawati said an understanding with the SP was reached to thwart the BJP’s attempt to capture maximum seats in the Rajya Sabha and legisltaive council elections due to a division in opposition ranks.

The Rajya Sabha polls will be held for the 10 seats in UP. With its strength in the legislative assembly, SP is in a position to win one seat comfortably. The BSP will require the SP’s support to send its candidate to the Upper House of Parliament.

“The SP-BSP alliance will thwart BJP effort to bag the ninth seat,” the BSP chief said and extended an offer to the Congress as well. “The BSP will support the Congress’s Rajya Sabha candidate in Madhya Pradesh if the seven Congress MLAs in UP support the BSP candidate.”

The BSP’s support to Samajwadi candidates in the two prestigious Lok Sabha seats has triggered some concern within the BJP.

Chief minister Adityanath, a five-time MP for Gorakhpur, downplayed the joint effort by the two main opposition parties to defeat the BJP. He said his party is strong in both seats and will win with a comfortable margin.