On Monday evening,the footpath opposite the Prime Ministers 7 Race Course Road residence looked different. The usual army of reporters and TV crew with their cameras and tripods stood gathered together in a marked-out area,cordoned by a blue,4-inch thick rope. There was a makeshift podium with a shiny steel microphone stand. A black rug had been put under it,and a spotless white cloth acted as backdrop for the speaker.
The stage was set for Mayawatis TV byte session. Navneet Sehgal,secretary to the UP Chief Minister,explained why the arrangements were necessary. Mayawati doesnt like to be surrounded by jostling reporters. So this arrangement has been made, Sehgal said in between directing a technician to ensure that high-voltage lamps erected on poles focused directly on the podium.
There should be sufficient light when the CM speaks, he said. Some officials were walking around carrying large searchlights,just in case.
There was,in fact,a full team from UP officials,policemen and commandos at the venue,making sure all the arrangements were perfect. Most had reached hours before Mayawatis appointment with the PM. The venue,a 10 feet by 6 feet area,was crawling with UP police personnel. The Delhi Police appeared to be present only as fringe support.
As Mayawatis dozen-vehicle cavalcade emerged from the PMs residence,the media was told to maintain order. Journalists standing in front of the cameras were told to sit on the ground. Mayawati came,stood at the podium,read a three-page statement and left her exit as swift as her entry.