With an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has started preparations for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, to be held at Allahabad in January 2019. In a bid to improve the BJP’s poll prospects, the Centre and the state government are expected to leave no stone unturned to make the mela a huge success.
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh and several state officials, including Allahabad Municipal Commissioner Harikesh Chaurasia, met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu Friday to discuss details about the preparations.
The Uttar Pradesh government is expected to spend Rs 2,500 crore on preparations for the Ardh Kumbh, out of which the Centre may provide Rs 900 crore, said Singh.
For the BJP, which came to power in the state with a massive mandate, apparently due to consolidation of Hindu votes, conducting the Ardh Kumbh with splendour and fanfare would be a “prestige issue” as well as a litmus test for its commitment to its ideology, said party sources. “Success of the mela would not just be a matter of pride, but also justify the huge support the party has received,” said a party leader.
During the meeting, it is learnt, the ministers have agreed to integrate the Smart City and AMRUT Mission for Allahabad so that construction of roads, sewage and communication projects could be taken up, said Singh. “A Special Purpose Vehicle will be created and the Urban Development ministry has agreed to immediately release Rs 500 crore for this,” he said.
Party sources said there will not be “dearth of funds” for the preparations.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has appointed state Urban Development Minister Suresh Khanna as the minister in charge of the Ardh Kumbh Mela preparations.
Among the tasks which would be taken up on war footing are modernisation of railway stations in the region, development of Allahabad airport, installation of new traffic lights and CCTVs, and construction of bus terminals.