Plagued by obstacles, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s much-anticipated ‘Samajwadi Vikas Rath’ yatra, which was scheduled to begin almost two months ago, has stopped in its tracks with party insiders claiming that a brewing family feud was one of the main factors that had hampered its progress. Sources said the yatra is now likely to begin only after Assembly elections are announced as the CM was busy with inaugurations and distribution of benefits under various welfare schemes before the model code of conduct comes into play.
“The feud within the party organisation and family continued to affect the campaign. After the first day of the yatra, the CM travelled on the rath for inauguration of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway on November 21 from Lucknow to Unnao. He travelled on the rath for a few kilometres in Rampur city last month, where he had gone to inaugurate some projects,” said a SP leader.
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SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had flagged off his son’s yatra in the presence of party state chief Shivpal Yadav in Lucknow on November 3. However, the customised red Mercedes ‘rath’ stopped just a few metres from the CM’s residence due to a technical snag, forcing Akhilesh to continue the ‘yatra’ till Unnao in an SUV.
The chief minister was scheduled to address at least 14 public meetings before reaching Unnao, about 70 km from Lucknow, but his convoy did not stop for any. Party leaders had then said that Akhilesh would continue his yatra after SP’s silver jubilee celebrations on November 5.
Party sources said that Akhilesh was scheduled to reach Mahoba district on Wednesday by helicopter to inaugurate five solar power plants and had decided to board the ‘Samajwadi Vikas Rath’ after the event to travel to Jhansi, where he had to lay the foundation stone of a 20 MW solar power plant, distribute laptops to students, Samajwadi pension and old age pension to the beneficiaries.
“But now the programme has been changed. CM will come to Jhansi from Mahoba by helicopter and will go back. His rath schedule has been cancelled. He will distribute laptops to students and address a public meeting in Jhansi,” said Chhatrapal Singh Yadav, SP district president of Jhansi.
Another party leader close to Akhilesh said that the programme has been changed and the CM would return to Lucknow the same day because of other engagements of the government. “CM wants to give time to foundation stone-laying and inauguration of infrastructure projects as much as possible before the Assembly elections are announced. Now, it is expected that he will take out rath yatra only after announcement of Assembly polls schedule,” said a party MLA.
Akhilesh also skipped two pre-poll public meetings addressed by Mulayam in Ghazipur and Bareilly districts. Shivpal attended both these rallies. When he was recently asked why the rath yatra had been stalled, Akhilesh had said that his rath ‘Vikas se Vijay ki oar’ was continuously moving and his public programmes were attracting crowds.