For the first time since an infamous episode in 1995, Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati shared the stage at a joint SP-BSP-RLD election rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri on Friday. Former UP Chief Minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav was also present on the stage.

Seated next to each other, the two leaders not only put aside their historic differences of the past in order to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also heaped praises on each other – a possibility that was unthinkable till mid-2018.

Addressing the rally first, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was apparently not in the best of health, told the gathering to always accord respect to Mayawati – a four-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and his biggest rival throughout their shared political career before SP-BSP agreed for a tie-up.

“I welcome Mayawati-ji here today. I want all of you to always respect Mayawati-ji because whenever we were in need, she always extended her support to us. I am extremely pleased that she has come here to support my candidature,” Yadav told the gathering.

Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat where polling will be held in the third phase on 23 April. Mainpuri has sent Yadav four times to Parliament.

In her address, Mayawati hit out at PM Modi calling him a “nakli pichda varg” (who fakes backward class origin).

“Ye (Mulayam) PM Modi ki tarah nakli veh farzi pichde varg ke nahi hain. Mulayam ji asli hain. Janam-jaat pichde varg ke hain (He is not like PM Modi who fakes his caste identity. He is a true backward class man since his birth),” Mayawati said at the rally in Christian College grounds.

“There is no doubt that he has included people of all walks of life from UP in his party,” she said.

She also referred to the 1995 incident saying that the media must be wondering how the two leaders came together to contest the Lok Sabha elections and how she is campaigning for Yadav.

Mayawati said some difficult decisions have to be taken in the country’s interest, and in the interest of the BSP movement.

Expressing confidence in Mulayam’s victory, the BSP president said slammed the BJP claiming that the party was losing steam after the first two phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

Mulayam Singh and Mayawati have not seen eye-to-eye ever since an alliance between their parties came to a sordid end in 1995, when Samajwadi Party workers allegedly attacked a state guest house where the BSP chief was camping with her supporters.

Before that the SP patriarch had shared stage with BSP founder Kanshi Ram.

When the SP-BSP stitched its new alliance ahead of the seven-phased Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati had made it clear that she has set aside the guest house episode.

While the BJP often refers to the 1995 incident to describe the tie-up as “impractical”, both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have asked their respective party workers to set aside their differences.

This was the fourth joint rally of the alliance. Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Chaudhary Ajit Singh was conspicuous by his absence.