Lucknow: Inauguration of a bridge over the Ganga river in Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s parliamentary constituency, Rae Bareli, has become a bone of contention between Uttar Pradesh`s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress party.
Each of the five Congress legislators belonging to Rae Bareli on Wednesday expressed strong reservations against the proposed inauguration of the bridge in Dalmau town by Uttar Pradesh Public Works Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui.
The legislators called on state Governor BL Joshi on Wednesday afternoon, seeking his intervention to restrain the Mayawati government from proceeding with the inauguration, on the plea that Sonia Gandhi wanted to formally open the bridge to the public.
"Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati`s decision to hastily go for the inauguration was an afterthought, as Sonia Gandhi`s intent to inaugurate the bridge was already conveyed to the state government," claimed Dinesh Pratap Singh, a Congress member of the upper house from Rae Bareli.
In a letter sent to the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department engineer-in-chief T. Ram February 17, the union Surface Transport ministry had made it clear that United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi wished to inaugurate the bridge in the second week of March.
"The state government`s decision to go ahead with the ceremony on March 4 itself was an attempt to hog credit for the construction of the bridge, that was done entirely with central funding of Rs.30 crore, released out of the Central Road Fund, solely at the behest of the Congress president," Singh pointed out.
Bachrawan legislator Raja Ram Tyagi as well as Harchandpur legislator Shiv Ganesh Lodhi termed the state government`s move as an "act of cheap publicity".
"All that the Mayawati government had done in Rae Bareli was create hurdles in the path of development of the area; even major projects like the rail coach factory were opposed by her, while basic needs like availability of electricity were denied to the local people," Lodhi said.
The memorandum signed by Singh, Tyagi, Lodhi and other three legislators Ajay Pal Singh (from Unchahar), Ashok Kumar Singh (Sareni) and Shiv Balak Pasi (Salon), explicitly warns: "Any attempt by BSP minister to inaugurate the bridge would be opposed tooth and nail by the people of Rae Bareli, who were terribly agitated over the state government`s move."
A spokesman of the Mayawati government however claimed that the union government had no right to impose its decisions on the state in this manner. "It is true that the union Surface Transport ministry had released Rs 30 crore out of the Central Road Fund to the state`s road pool, but where and how the money is to be utilized is the sole right of the state government, which also has the privilege to determine how and when a particular road or bridge is to be opened to the public," he asserted.