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Call it a showdown or a show of strength, the stage is set for Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’ to be flagged off on Thursday by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, where Shivpal Yadav is likely to be present to send a message of unity in the ruling party. “All arrangements have been made. The yatra will be flagged off by ‘Netaji’ (Mulayam) and senior party leaders, party state president Shivpal Yadav will also remain present,” MLC Sunil Yadav Sajan, who is close to Akhilesh, told PTI.
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Sajan, who is also incharge of first leg of the yatra, said at every second kilometre, the CM will be welcomed and he will also address gatherings at various locations.Last month, Shivpal had expelled Sajan, considered close to Akhilesh, from the party. The supporters of both Akhilesh and Shivpal factions are keeping an eye on the development and the entire route of yatra is dotted with hoardings, banners and colourful arches to welcome the ‘Vikas Sey Vijay Tak’ rath yatra starting from here.
A hoarding put up by a youth leader close to Shivpal says “Shivpal kahey dil se, Akhilesh ka abhishek phir se” (Shivpalsays from his heart to make Akhilesh CM again), while some others only highlight Akhilesh’s achievements. “The hoardings put up by the leaders show the state of confusion in the party. It’s visible on roads. We wish this confusion to end with the start of this yatra,” a senior SP leader said. A cavalcade of over 5,000 SUVs and trucks will seek to send a message to the party leadership that 43-year-old Akhilesh is the “most acceptable” face of SP.
The pro-CM camp, which has expelled SP leaders, is working overtime to make it one of the biggest political shows of recent times, coming close on the heels of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s month-long Deoria-to-Delhi ‘kisan yatra’.Another gala event is scheduled for Saturday to mark SP’s silver jubilee.