Lucknow, March 3 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Wednesday pre-empted the central government by getting a state minister to inaugurate a bridge in Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s constituency before schedule – that too from Lucknow, over 100 km away from the spot!
The deed was done even before Governor B.L. Joshi could give a thought to a representation by Congress legislators to stall the inauguration of a bridge on the Ganga river in Rae Bareli, which is Sonia Gandhi’s constituency.
Public Works Department PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui failed to give any justification for carrying out the inauguration exactly 24 hours before schedule and that too more than 100 km away from the site of the bridge.
But he strongly refuted allegations that the ceremony was held only to prevent Sonia Gandhi from inaugurating it.
He also sought to refute accusations that the state government was trying to take credit for construction of the bridge that would fulfil a long-awaited demand of the local electorate to connect Dalmau town in Rae Bareli district with Fatehpur.
Also, the Mayawati administration physically stopped union Minister of State for Surface Transport R.P.N. Singh from proceeding to Rae Bareli. Singh was stated to be on his way to Dalmau, where he had reportedly been rushed by none other than Sonia Gandhi.
It was Singh’s ministry which had Feb 17 written a letter to Uttar Pradesh PWD engineer-in-chief T. Ram to make arrangements for inauguration of the bridge by Sonia Gandhi any time during the second week of March.
Claiming ignorance about any such letter, Siddiqui said, ‘In fact, chief minister Mayawati had herself proposed to inaugurate the bridge on her birthday Jan 15 itself along with so many other such installations, but it had to be put off because the approach roads of the bridge were not ready by then.’
He said, ‘That was the reason the chief minister asked me to go ahead with the inauguration.’
While he did not refute the claim that the bridge was built with central funding of Rs.30 crore, Siddiiqui claimed, ‘The fund received from the Central Road Fund was not because of any benevolence of the central government, it was ours by right.’
R.P.N. Singh, who was compelled to abort his trip to Dalmau, told reporters at Munshiganj, about 100 km from here, ‘The inauguration is not so much an issue, but the manner in which the state government has been putting hurdles in every work initiated by the centre reflects their negative attitude towards the development of the state.’