Amid show of unity, Akhilesh embarks on Rath Yatra

The campaign has been named as Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra. The Rath is a 10-wheel modified red Mercedes bus having all modern gadgets at the cost of Rs 5 crore.

Amid show of unity, Akhilesh embarks on Rath Yatra

Riding a modified red Mercedes bus, the 43 year old Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav kicked off the campaign of Samajwadi Party to regain power in this crucial state where elections are slated for early next year.

“We will reach every person across the state through this campaign and educate them about the work we have done in the last four and a half years. We have worked in infrastructure, in health and have even brought people under social security net. The development work should continue for which people should vote us to power again,” Akhilesh Yadav said at a function attended by over 300,000 people here on Thursday.

The campaign was a picture perfect for Samajwadi Party – which had witnessed a family feud for the last one month where tu tu main main dominated party politics. Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and state president of the party Shivpal Singh Yadav graced the occasion.

Mulayam did flag off the yatra and wished good luck to Akhilesh but he cautioned the young party workers not to get swayed away. Ït is a big fight to bring the party back to power. Work hard to achieve your target. Here you are raising slogans but at the time of adversity, do not show your back,” he said.

This was the first occasion for Akhilesh Yadav to demonstrate his strength after many of his supporters were expelled from the party following the ongoing family feud. A large number of his supporters from the native place of Etawah joined the show in Lucknow. Abhishek Yadav, cousin of the chief minister and chairman of the Etawah district panchayat, is looking after the mobilisation of the people from the district to Lucknow.

The campaign has been named as Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra. The Rath is a 10-wheel modified red Mercedes bus having all modern gadgets at the cost of Rs 5 crore. There is a hydraulic lift that will allow Akhilesh Yadav to be raised and address crowds during road shows and rallies from the bus. It has a CCTV camera, LCD televisions, sofas, a bed. A loudspeaker fitted on the bus played a campaign song about development.

The bus painted in red focuses on government’s achievements. Major schemes launched by the Akhilesh Yadav government are highlighted on the bus' bright red sides, prominent among them the Lucknow Metro, a new government ambulance service, and the ambitious dial-a-cop's-help initiative launched some time ago.

The Rath yatra originally scheduled to be flagged off from the state office of the party on October 3, but had to be postponed due to escalation in tension within the first family which later led to the dismissal of Shviapl Yadav from the cabinet and expulsion of Ram Gopal Yadav, the Rajya Sabha MP and uncle of chief minister from the party.

Life-size photos of the Chief Minister and his father, the Samajwadi party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and the pictures of the veteran socialist leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia and Janeshwar Mishra adorn the Rath. The photos of state Samajwadi party president and estranged uncle of the chief minister, Shivpal Yadav, are conspicuous by their absence. His name and photo is also missing from the posters and the banners put up by the party for the Yatra.

The yatra started from La Martiniere College Ground and will conclude at Shuklaganj town in neighbouring Unnao district. Its second leg will begin from Kanpur after the party's silver jubilee function on November 5.

The entire route of the Yatra has been decked up in party colours of red and green, with banners, posters and big hoardings, carrying photographs of Mulayam, Akhilesh and his wife Dimple Yadav, adorning the stretch.

The history of taking out rath yatra in SP dates back to 1988-89, when Mulayam undertook the 'Kranti yatra' across UP, targeting the Congress. He had used a motorised 'rath' that was gifted to him by late deputy prime minister Devi Lal.