SAMAJWADI PARTY leader Shivpal Yadav and his camp set about finalising preparations Friday for the party’s silver jubilee, an event coinciding with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Vikas Yatra that was flagged off Thursday. On Friday, Shivpal inspected Janeshwar Mishra Park, venue for Saturday’s show of strength with leaders of various regional parties including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda of JD(S) and Lalu Prasad of RJD. The SP has laid out 50,000 chairs under the pandal but event convener Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, a UP minister, said he expects the audience to exceed five lakh. Three VVIP cottages have been set up near the stage.
Before Shivpal, his camp follower Shadab Fatima, who was among the ministers sacked by Akhilesh, was seen with convener Prajapati at the venue. Prajapati, whom Akhilesh had sacked in September before reinstating him, insisted there was no competition between Akhilesh and Shivpal or their events. “We are expecting a huge crowd. The workers have already started coming to the state capital. We are expecting over 5 lakh people. The event will also pass a strong message for BJP and rival parties,” he said.
Also Friday, Shivpal held a meeting with youth workers over preparations and flagged off a Rajat Jayanti Yatra to invite guests. The yatra was taken out by controversial youth leader Amit Jani, made “youth in-charge” of the silver jubilee programme. Jani had been arrested from Lucknow in 2012 for allegedly vandalising a statue of BSP chief Mayawati, and then again from Delhi this year for allegedly threatening JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Shivpal will receive the guests at the event, which Mulayam Singh Yadav will preside over. Akhilesh will be guest of honour.
The SP is projecting the event as a platform for a grand alliance for the UP polls with Mulayam as the leader. “The message will be to ensure a clear majority government for SP again and then to get Netaji elected Prime Minister in 2019,” said Prajapati.
Deve Gowda will be chief guest. Special guests will include Lalu, Ajit Singh of RLD, Abhay Singh Chautala of INLD and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani. The JD(U) will be represented by Sharad Yadav but Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose presence Shivpal’s office had expected, will not attend because of Chhat Puja, said JD(U) leader K C Tyagi, who added he would not attend the event either.
SP general secretary Amar Singh too has been invited.
Elaborate arrangements have been made by police to ensure security of VVIP guests and party workers. “Besides a DIG-level officer, there would be five SPs, 24 ASPs, 39 circle officers and a considerable number of PAC personnel as part of the security cover,” IG (Lucknow Zone) A Satish Ganesh said.