In what could come as a major blow to the Congress ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Samajwadi Party patron Maulayam Singh today announced that his party will not enter into any alliance with any party and said "there may be only merger".
"There will be no alliance for the UP Assembly polls. There may be only merger," he told a hurriedly called press conference amid talks among leaders of 'Janata Parivar' parties about a possible tie-up.
The ruling party chief's remarks assume significance against the backdrop of marathon meetings Congress' poll strategist Prashant Kishor had with him in Delhi and Lucknow.
Kishore had held talks with the SP patriarch spread over several sessions and had also met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, fuelling speculation about an alliance.
Akhilesh, who did not appear too keen on cobbling together a coalition, had yesterday said that forming a coalition was not that easy.
"Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) is an experienced leader. He will take the right decision...," Akhilesh said.
The fact, that SP wanted to go it alone was reflected in the chief minister's remark that the ruling party can win the election on its own.
But, as the alliance picture was not clear, he had also said that in case of pre-poll tie-up, they could garner 300 seats. Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.
The frequent meetings Kishor had with the SP leadership and the interactions between Mulayam and Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal had triggered speculation that a coalition could be on the cards.
Leaders of the erstwhile Janata Parivar who had attended the gala SP silver jubilee bash here too had underlined the need to halt BJP in its tracks by joining hands.
The state will go into polls in early 2017.
(With PTI inputs)