In a landmark press conference in Lucknow on Saturday, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) – previously bitter political rivals – officially announced their alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“We (BSP-SP) have decided to contest upcoming Lok Sabha elections together; this will lead to a new political revolution in the country,” said BSP supremo Mayawati in her first joint press conference with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.

The BSP supremo announced that the two parties agreed on the seat-sharing on 4 January in New Delhi.

“BSP and SP will contest on 38 Lok Sabha seats each. We have left two seats for other parties. We have left Amethi and Rae Bareilly for Congress, which is not part of our alliance,” she said.

Amethi is Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency and Rae Bareilly is that of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Addressing media persons in Lucknow’s Hotel Taj, the two leaders accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for creating a climate of intolerance, communalism and hopelessness in the country.

Recalling the previous alliance between the two parties, Mayawati said that they had in 1993 defeated the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati said that the people of India are fed up with the arrogant policies of the BJP, which she labelled “extremely casteist”,  and its anti-farmer and anti-poor policies.

The a four-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh slammed both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

Ye Pradhanmantri Modi ji ki or BJP ke national president Amit Shah, in dono Guru-chele ki neend udane wali press conference hai (This is the press conference that will rob Modi and Shah of their sleep),” she added.

Accusing BJP for trying to break the newly-formed alliance by linking the SP chief’s name to a mining scandal, Mayawati said that she stands with Yadav.

“We believe that the BJP in its desperation conspired to break our alliance by linking SP chief’s name to the mining case. BSP condemns this and stands with Akhilesh Yadav,” she said.

The BSP chief stressed that the alliance is not to win the elections but to present a powerful alternative for small traders, youth, women, farmers, Dalits, Muslims and marginalised sections of the country.

Mayawati expressed confidence in the victory of the alliance and said that SP-BSP will be able to trounce BJP both in the Lok Sabha and State like it did in the recently held bypolls referring to the saffron party’s defeat in Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary bypolls.

At the same time, the BSP chief explained why the two parties decided not to include the Congress in their alliance.

“BSP and SP are not going to get any benefit from an alliance with Congress. Our experience is that we do not get votes on seats we leave and they go to the BJP. Congress benefits from us but honest parties like us do not get any benefit,” she said drawing attention to the BSP’s alliance with the party in 1996 and SP’s in 2017.

The two leaders called the Congress equally authoritarian and anti-poor as the BJP.

“Be it BJP or Congress, whoever rules, their policies are mostly the same. For example, we are seeing how both indulged in corruption in defence deals. Congress imposed declared emergency, today there is undeclared emergency,” said Mayawati.

“Like Congress lost the elections post the Bofors scam, BJP will lose over Rafale; this is what people in the country are saying,” she said.

In his brief address, Yadav, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, said that the alliance was necessary to “defeat the arrogance of BJP”.

“BJP can go to any extent to create differences in our workers, we must be united and counter any such tactic,” he said echoing Mayawati while thanking the BSP leader for the alliance.

When asked whether he will support Mayawati as a Prime Ministerial candidate, the SP chief simply said, “You know who my choice is. Uttar Pradesh has given Prime Ministers in the past and trend will be repeated again.”

The name of the seats from which each party will be contesting shall be announced later.