THE TRIAL run of the state government’s much publicised Lucknow Metro was flagged off by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday in the presence of SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav and state unit chief Shivpal Yadav. The function was held at Transport Nagar Metro depot for the trial run to Charbagh railway station — a distance of 8.5 km. The entire 23-km long north-south corridor will have 21 stations, including eight elevated ones, and the estimated cost of the project is around Rs 6,800 crore. The primary section (between Transport Nagar to Charbagh) will be open to the public on March 26 next year after a three-month trial.
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Following the inauguration, Akhilesh rode his Samajwadi Vikas Rath from Transport Nagar station to Singar Nagar station along with Mulayam and wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav. Shivpal, however, left in his own vehicle.
Maintaining that his government has worked for the development of UP in the last five years, Akhilesh earlier asked the gathering to compare its work with that of the previous BSP regime in UP and the Centre’s BJP-led government. “There was one government of stones. They erected elephants of stones, which are still standing… The other government has tried to mislead people with surgical strikes. Both borders and economy have become more insecure under its two-and-a-half years rule,” he said.
“Metro was not in our manifesto, but we initiated the project. The work for the same has also been started in Ghaziabad, between Greater Noida and Noida, and also in Kanpur. If we come to power again, we will start work in Varanasi too,” he added.
Maintaining that SP is ready for Assembly polls, Akhilesh said: “Yesterday, a journalist asked me when my party will be ready for elections. I told him we will be ready as soon as the Metro project is inaugurated.”
In an apparent reference to BJP’s displeasure over union ministers not being invited for the inauguration — despite the project being 50 per cent funded by the Centre — Akhilesh said the day the Metro will be open to the public, “all will be invited to sit in it”. Claiming that he had never made any allegations against anyone, the CM said: “AIIMS would not have been coming up in Rae Bareli and Gorakhpur if the state government had not provided land.”
Slamming the Centre over demonetisation, Akhilesh said: “People are facing a different kind of problem these days, they don’t know if they will be able to withdraw their salary… I believe it will take more than six months to overcome the problems… The Centre has destroyed the economy, as people are rushing back to their villages after losing jobs.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mulayam said: “Farmers have been hurt… Why was demonetisaion initiated? The matter should have been discussed with all parties before such a decision was implemented.” Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “trying to run his government on the basis of lies”, he added: “He should have given at least Rs 3 lakh to each family, as he had promised Rs 15 lakh for everyone during his (Lok Sabha) campaign.”
On the Metro, Mulayam described the day as “historic”. “The UP government has presented an example for neighbouring states to follow,” he said. “When I was asked to lay foundation for the project, I wanted to know how much time it will take and refused when I was told it will take four years. Them they said it will be completed in three years, but I again declined. When I was told it will be completed in two years, I agreed,” he added. “People used to call UP backward but the development that is taking place in the state is unmatched anywhere in the country… None of NDA’s 73 MPs from UP could question my claim in the Lok Sabha,” he claimed.
Expressing concern over the killing of soldiers at the border, Mulayam said they should be given a “free hand”. “The soldiers are being killed in their sleep. When will they get free hand? They (read Pakistan) are giving threat of atomic bomb. If they use it, two to three cities will get destroyed. Hindustan also has many atomic bombs and when we use, their entire country will be finished… But we don’t want war,” he said. “As defence minister, I had ordered firing at the border after five Indian soldiers were killed… It led to the killing of 100 Pakistanis,” he added.
In his brief address, Shivpal called the Metro project “the biggest achievement” of the state government.
Minister Azam Khan, meanwhile, tried to dismiss claims of differences in the Yadav family. “Only a father and a teacher feel proud at the rise of their son or student… Whenever Mulayam criticised Akhilesh, it was as a father… Mulayam had asked me to present Akhilesh’s name as CM candidate after 2012 elections after thoroughly thinking about it and had no ill intentions for his son…” he said.