For Sahara chief Subrata Roy, the government never really changed in Lucknow. All parties, irrespective of their ideologies, always maintained a good rapport with him.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, like his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, had paid a visit to the palatial Sahara Shaher along with his ministers after assuming office in 2012. Roy’s aura has been such that filmstars, cricketers and politicians were at his beck and call.
But the case against Roy over non-refund of investors’ money had put him in a tight spot. Akhilesh, sensing that the law is closing in on Roy, has begun distancing himself from him, avoiding frequent trips to Sahara Shaher except on a few social occasions.
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Besides, Roy no longer sponsors the Indian cricket team and that he had lost the Pune Warriors of the Indian Premier League robbed some of his glamour. This, however, does not mean that the ties between the ruling Samajwadi Party and Roy has snapped. .
In fact, Roy flourished during the SP regime when Amar Singh was calling the shots in the party.
During Mulayam’s regime, Sahara Shaher became synonymous with celebrations. People in Lucknow remember the wedding ceremony of Roy’s son, which extended over several days with country’s top politicians and film stars in attendance. Lucknow’s first shopping mall, Sahara Ganj, belongs to him.
While most SP leaders did not speak on Sahara chief’s relations with Mulayam, cabinet minister and SP spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said, “Having a relation with him is one thing and this incident (Roy’s arrest) is different.”
Fateh Bahadur Singh, MLA and son of former CM Veer Bahadur Singh, said: “Subrata would have never reached this position had my father not helped him during his early days. We know him from his struggling days in Gorakhpur, when he was a small businessman, we are still with him.”
Except for two instances during Kalyan Singh and Mayawati’s regime, Roy’s rise had largely been unhindered.
Kalyan Singh, former CM and BJP leader, had raised objections to the land where Sahara Shaher is situated. “Yes, I did not give him the land,” he said, adding: “There must be some quality in him, which is why everyone went to have tea with him, but I never went.” A section ofthe BJP was, however, said to be in his support.
In 2007, Mayawati had ordered razing of a portion of Sahara Shaher. The task was done but further damage was controlled.