As the countdown to the formation of the next government in Uttar Pradesh has begun, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh, accompanied by his son Akhilesh Yadav, met Governor B.L. Joshi at the Raj Bhavan here on Wednesday.

With 224 seats in its kitty, the SP has won the people's mandate to form the next government.

The meeting lasted about 15 minutes. Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said it was a courtesy call and the SP decision to formally stake claim to form a government would be taken at the legislature party meeting in Lucknow on March 10. The leader would be elected that day.

Earlier, the outgoing Chief Minister, Mayawati, submitted her resignation to Mr. Joshi and also recommended dissolution of the 15th State Assembly.

Mr. Singh's meeting with the Governor followed a day of hectic confabulations with the parliamentary board members. An informal meeting of the legislature party, attended by some of the newly-elected MLAs, was also held.

Suspense over the choice of the Chief Minister had dogged the party since Tuesday. While it was rumoured that the parliamentary board had approved the name of Akhilesh to head the government, it was also said the final call would be taken by Mr. Singh. An MLA, who was present at the legislature party meeting, denied that the issue figured in the discussions which, he said, were more in the nature of exchanging pleasantries and greetings.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the State SP unit chief, said the entire party wanted Mr. Mulayam Singh to become Chief Minister for the fourth time.