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‘Want of cooperation’ puts Kumbh off Sonia’s travel plans

The proposed visit of Congress President Sonia Gandhi to the ongoing Maha Kumbh here has been cancelled due to ‘want of cooperation’ of the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh in making security arrangements, the party's state unit alleged on Sunday.

‘We felt upset upon receiving information last night that the state government has expressed its inability to provide the necessary security arrangements for Sonia ji's proposed visit,’ UPCC spokesman Kishore Varshney said.

‘We never expected such treatment from the SP government in the state, which had received generous assistance from the Centre for organising the congregation,’ Varshney said.

He said, ‘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’.

The UPCC spokesman alleged that, ‘The state government has a guilty conscience as it has failed to properly utilise the funds given for Kumbh and has been squandering the money on its own publicity’.

‘This is not the first time when a non-Congress government in UP has tried to hinder Gandhi's visit to Kumbh,’he claimed.

He said the Congress president had visited the 2001 Maha Kumbh and taken a holy dip ‘despite the then BJP government having tried its level best to prevent her from doing so’. ‘However, this time, in view of the heightened security concerns prevailing in the country, she has chosen to cancel her visit for want of cooperation from the local administration,’ Varshney said.

He, however, added ‘the final word is not yet out on the possibility of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's proposed visit, though given the attitude of the state government, we are not very hopeful’.

In Lucknow, Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Arun Kumar said they had no information about the visit of Sonia Gandhi or Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the Maha Kumbh.

‘As per our knowledge there is no programme of Gandhi or Modi to visit Allahabad. We have not received any programme about the visit of these leaders,’ he said.

On the allegation of a Congress leader that Gandhi's visit was cancelled due to lack of security arrangements, the ADGP said ‘how security can be provided when there is no information about her visit.’


RUMOURS SEND OFFICIALS INTO TIZZY

Officials at the Maha Kumbh mela premises had a tough time Sunday as they found themselves caught between the incessant rush of devotees and the steady spin of rumour mills on Mauni Amavasya, the biggest bathing day.

As the bathing started early in the day, much before the sunrise, rumours broke out that four middle-aged women had died in a stampede near the Sangam nose.

As the rumour spread, largely by media persons from local newspapers, police forces were rushed to the spot on a fact-finding mission.

The state government’s media officials went into a tizzy, deluged by queries from reporters seeking details of the stampede.

Officials heaved a sigh of relief as soon as the reports of the incident turned out to be a mere rumours. Police officials said a ‘minor incident’ occurred when some women devotees were pushed by the crowd from behind near the Fort. (IANS)
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