Akhilesh Yadav defers ‘rath yatra’, claims his govt ‘built highway’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the 341-km expressway, which connects Ghazipur to Lucknow, in Sultanpur on Tuesday.

After THE Ghazipur district administration denied it permission to organise a “rath yatra” on the Purvanchal Expressway on Tuesday since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate it, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday said his party would offer flowers in a symbolic gesture to mark the unveiling of the expressway. He also deferred his party’s rath yatra by a day to November 17.

Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the 341-km expressway, which connects Ghazipur to Lucknow, in Sultanpur on Tuesday.

Akhilesh told the media here that as per the SP’s plan, he was scheduled to reach one of the last villages on the expressway on a chopper and was planning to travel to Azamgarh on a “rath”.

“The inauguration of the expressway by the Prime Minister will be done at Sultanpur airstrip, which is around 100 km from Azamgarh. What threat they have from me?” he asked.

“We wanted to travel on the expressway built in the previous Samajwadi government. But in the name of the inauguration ceremony, nobody has been allowed to use the expressway, and boulders have been placed at the entry points. The police in Sultanpur are keeping a watch on our party leaders and some of them have been put under house arrest… It is possible that the SP workers take their cycle on their shoulders and ride it on Purvanchal Expressway. Who will stop them? They [BJP] don’t have any idea or vision,” Akhilesh said.

He also said that the BJP government changed the name of the expressway “built during his tenure” from Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway to Purvanchal Expressway.

Earlier in the day, Ghazipur District Magistrate Mangala Prasad Singh said the district administration does not have the authority to issue permission for the “rath yatra” since the expressway had yet to be inaugurated for public transport. The administration had asked SP leaders to either change their schedule or the route of the yatra, he added.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh accused the BJP government of compromising on the quality of the expressway to cut down the project cost and inaugurate it before the Assembly elections to claim credit for it.

“In a bid to make it cheap, there has been a compromise on its quality. To take credit ahead of the polls, the BJP is going to inaugurate the half-baked Purvanchal Expressway,” he said.

The former chief minister also claimed that the government had snatched the expressway work from companies that could have built a better road. However, he did not name the companies. “Those companies are doing the best job in the country. If they had made the expressway, it would have been better than the Agra-Lucknow expressway,” he said.

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