Suhaildev Bahujan Samaj Party (SBSP) president and state's Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar set the rumour mills working overtime in Lucknow on Friday as he was closeted with Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Shivpal Singh Yadav in the Varanasi circuit house for over 15 minutes.

While both leaders called the meeting a courtesy one, political overtones are being read as the Minister for Disability and Backward Classes Welfare is at daggers drawn with his alliance partner, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and has been targeting the state government every now and then.

The meeting also assumed significance as the minister earlier defended former Chief Minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav over the damage done to the residence that he vacated.

"I do not think Akhilesh Yadav would do anything like this ... ripping off tiles and plucking off taps from bathrooms," he said adding that he has always spoken his mind without caring for anyone and was doing so in this matter as well. Mr Rajbhar also said that in his view no politician of the stature of Akhilesh Yadav would do something like this.Asked to comment on Mr Yadav's allegation that the Chief Minister's OSD and a senior IAS officer had visited the vacated house before it was thrown open to the media, the Minister said the question should be put to the current Chief Minister and the former Chief Minister.

PTI