LUCKNOW: It was a grand spectacle at the historic La Martiniere College grounds in Lucknow on Thursday as Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav flagged off the ‘Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra’, spearheaded by his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, to launch the party’s poll campaign for the upcoming Assembly elections.
The yatra is being seen as a personal victory for Akhilesh in the ongoing family feud as both his father and uncle Shivpal Yadav were present at the venue.
The first leg of the yatra covered 75 km from Lucknow to Shuklaganj in Unnao. There was a setback to the yatra initially when the customized ‘Mercedes Rath’ developed a technical snag after covering barely 500 metres. Although the organisers were tight-lipped over the reason for snag, sources told Express that all the wheels of the giant bus had got jammed. The bus couldn’t be moved despite all efforts. However, Akhilesh, after waiting nearly 45 minutes, left the rath and got on his personal SUV to complete the journey. A battery of nearly 200 vehicles followed him throughout till Unnao, where he addressed a grand rally. The administration had ordered closure of schools in localities falling in the route.
Speaking on the occasion, Akhilesh blamed the recent power struggle in the party on ‘conspirators’ and said, “Now we are all are united.” Saying he was not aware of any ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) talk, he added the SP would come back to power on its own. He also said the youth were committed to the party and would work to make the November 5 silver jubilee event a big success. It may be noted that the yatra was managed by youth leaders, many of whom had been sacked by Shivpal for criticising Akhilesh’s removal as the SP state chief last month.
Mulayam, while wishing Akhilesh, praised his brother Shivpal “for the hard work he had put in to raise the party”. He also asked young workers to put in some legwork for the party in addition to slogan-shouting.