Millennium Post

FM lauds Akhilesh, assures help to UP

Samajwadi Party on Friday put forward its wishlist for extending support to the UPA government at the Centre. While party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav said he has no plans now to withdraw support to UPA, son Akhilesh, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, negotiated a financial package for the state.

Union finance minister P Chidambaram arrived in Lucknow directly from Sharjah, after a brief stopover at New Delhi, and discussed various issues affecting Centre-UP relationship. Akhilesh carefully chose the menu of idli (steamed rice cakes) and hot coffee to suit the taste buds of his guests as the officials from the two sides went tried to iron out differences.

The meeting started at 8.50 am and went on till 9.30 am with officials from both sides discussing ways to develop the state and assist in the progress of Uttar Pradesh. The chief minister apprised the finance minister of the delay in releasing funds for a number of Centrally-aided projects, to which Chidambaram assured Akhilesh Yadav that he would go back to Delhi and revert within a fortnight on the issues raised.

Akhilesh Yadav, it is learnt, asked the finance minister to expedite release of pending payments on central aided projects and sought the ‘speeding up of procedural clearances on the $3.5 billion assistance the state has sought from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other external agencies.’

There are 24 centre-aided projects of more than Rs.150 crore investment in Uttar Pradesh in sectors like petroleum, power, telecom and road transport. The annual plan outlay of the state, the finance minister told chief minister, had been growing steadily - from Rs.39,000 crore in 2009 to Rs.57,800 crore in 2012.

‘The FM was very reassuring on our demands and underlined that the union government was committed to development of the state,’ said a senior official present at the meeting. Later, inaugurating 300 new bank branches in the state at a function, Chidambaram used the occasion to assure ‘SP president Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav)’ that the UPA was committed to the development of the state. Chidambaram also lauded the chief minister for ‘starting his tenure well.’

Chidambaram’s visit came in the backdrop of deteriorating Congress-SP relationship. Party chief Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh Yadav have already dropped ample signals that their nine-year relationship with the Congress had touched rock bottom, indicating that they were ready for snapping ties.

The SP’s 22-MP support is crucial for the survival of the Manmohan Singh-led government that has seen the Trinamool Congress and the DMK withdrawing support.
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