LUCKNOW: CM Yogi Adityanath cancelled all his programmes especially those related to Janmashtami at Mathura following the demise of former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday.
Jaitley was one among 10 Rajya Sabha members of the Bharatiya Janata Party elected from Uttar Pradesh last year. Having taken the oath of the upper house on April 18, 2018, the BJP had anointed Jaitley its leader in Rajya Sabha.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Jaitley had chosen Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, as the nodal district to spend his MP Local Area Development Funds (MPLAD). Rae Bareli has been a Gandhi bastion for decades now.
He found the central UP district backward and in need of development although it was represented by a prominent political family. “His decision came after demands emanated from Rae Bareli conveying the people’s craving for development," says a senior BJP leader.
Jaitley had released the first instalment of Rs 2.5 crore from his MPLAD funds to the chief development officer of Rae Bareli (the nodal person to carry out the work) in September last year.
Though the money he had sent for the development of Rae Bareli is yet to be spent, a proposal for installation of 100 solar panels was floated by the district authorities just last week.
Jaitley had written his last letter to the Rae Bareli DM for installing 250 solar panels in the district on July 30, seeking other development projects so that he could release the money accordingly.
Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), each MP has the choice to propose to the district collector work to the tune of Rs 5 crore per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
A Rajya Sabha MP can recommend work in one or more districts in the state from where he/she has been elected.
However, the move to choose Rae Bareli for development was viewed as an attempt of the BJP leadership to breach the Gandhi family's stronghold in the area in the run-up to the 2019 polls. Rae Bareli is still represented by Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
Jaitley had a deep connection with Lucknow as he was closely associated with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee who represented the city in the lower house five times in a row from 1991 to 2009.
During the elections, Jaitley used to come down to Lucknow a day prior to Atalji’s nomination in order to check his nomination papers personally. He always accompanied Vajpayee as his legal expert during the filing of nomination papers in elections.
Even during the Assembly elections, Jaitley used to come down to the state capital for campaigning. As per local BJP leaders, Jaitley was fond of the street food of Lucknow, especially, the ‘chaat’ of the Chowk area which he used to visit regularly whenever he was in the city. He would make it a point to savour the ‘halwa’ of black carrot in Lucknow.