Confusion over Sonia's visit to Maha Kumbh



Allahabad/Lucknow: An Uttar Pradesh Congress leader today said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's proposed visit to Maha Kumbh was cancelled due to lack of security arrangements while another claimed she was expected to participate in the congregation around February 15.

UPCC leader Kishore Varshney alleged the Congress chief's visit was cancelled following non-cooperation of the state government in making necessary security arrangements.

"The party president had been planning her visit for the past one week. She kept waiting for the state government's response but the latter apparently had other thoughts," he told PTI.

"We had received information last night that the state government had expressed its inability to provide necessary security arrangements for Gandhi's proposed visit," he said.

In Lucknow, a senior UP police officer said they had no information about Gandhi's visit to Allahabad.

"As per our knowledge there is no programme of Gandhi or (Gujarat CM Narendra) Modi to visit Allahabad. We have not received any programme about their visits," said Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Arun Kumar.

On the allegation that Gandhi's visit was cancelled due to lack of security arrangements, he said "how security can be provided when there is no information about her visit."

Meanwhile, Allahabad Congress president Shyam Krishna Pandey said "Gandhi's visit does not stand cancelled and she may visit Maha Kumbh sometime around the Basant Panchmi on February 15 though the exact date is yet to be finalised"

Pandey said he was not aware from where Varshney got the information. When Varshney's attention was drawn to Pandey's claim, he said "I have been told about the cancellation and the reason behind it by a highly-placed AICC member who does not wish to be quoted."

Recently, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi and secretary Pervez Hashmi had come to the city to meet the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati who had hosted Gandhi on her visit to the 2001 Maha Kumbh.

They had not spoken to the media but sources in the party's local unit had said the AICC president's visit was scheduled in the first fortnight of February.

PTI