The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rally set to bring Lucknow to halt

Lucknow, April 12: The capital seems headed for a standstill on Monday if one goes by the chief minister’s travel plans. Expecting a supporter deluge in the city for her Pardafaash rally, Mayavati has decided to hop to the venue on a helicopter.

A helipad has been hurriedly constructed at Ambedkar Maidan, where she will address the crowd — nearly a million people are expected — from a fort-shaped podium.

Moreover, April 14 is an official holiday to mark B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary and banks and government offices will be closed. Now, the government has directed the labour department to ensure that all shops and commercial establishments are also closed.

“We will appeal to owners of shops and commercial establishments to keep their units closed. Offenders will have to face the music,” a government official said.

Two days to go before the rally, the city already seems to be in a blue mood. Wherever one looks, blue buntings are fluttering in the wind. Nearly 800 gateways of blue cloth have come up at crossings. Walls, including the one opposite the Assembly and the state BJP headquarters, have huge blue graffiti appealing to people to attend in large numbers.

Huge cut-outs of Kanshi Ram, Mayavati and Ambedkar have sprung up across the city, including almost a dozen — each 30 feet high — at the venue itself.

The administration has made elaborate arrangements for crowd management in the city as well as Charbagh station, where 16 BSP activists were killed after Mayavati’s rally on November 29 last year. An official of AGM rank will be present at the station on Monday to supervise the arrangements.

Accompanied by mentor Kanshi Ram, Mayavati personally inspected the arrangements today. She visited the venue of the rally as well as the Ambedkar Smarak in Gomti Nagar and Laxman Mela, where major functions in connection with Ambedkar’s birth anniversary will be held.

The BSP has requisitioned four special trains, costing Rs 4.5 lakh each, for the safe and speedy return of its supporters. The railway authorities are also attaching extra coaches to existing trains to ferry the rallyists.

The district administration has requisitioned all 325 city buses in Lucknow to transport the rallyists. There would be no buses for ordinary commuters from Sunday evening to Tuesday.

The government machinery is working overtime not only to make arrangements for the comfort and convenience of BSP activists coming for the rally, but also to provide the chief minister with ammunition against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

As Mulayam Singh and his outfit will be the main target of Mayavati — the rally has been called to expose them after the release of the first Mayavati tape in March — state officials have been collecting “evidence” for her.

A five-member committee, headed by the chief secretary, has prepared a detailed report for Mayavati on misuse of discretionary funds by Mulayam Singh during his tenure. The information department has been asked to come out with clippings of Mulayam Singh’s utterances during the Ayodhya movement. “She intends to go for a ruthless and total exposure of Yadav and we are gathering facts about what he did and said during his tenure as the CM in 1990,” said a senior official.

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