BSP ‘poor host’ to Rahul again | india | Hindustan Times
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BSP ‘poor host’ to Rahul again

As the winter day grew warmer in Lucknow on Monday, the Mayawati government — whose tourism department had in the morning reportedly cancelled the booking of its Lucknow auditorium, done by the state Congress for party leader Rahul Gandhi’s press conference on Tuesday — felt the political heat.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2009 23:49 IST
HT Correspondent

As the winter day grew warmer in Lucknow on Monday, the Mayawati government — whose tourism department had in the morning reportedly cancelled the booking of its Lucknow auditorium, done by the state Congress for party leader Rahul Gandhi’s press conference on Tuesday — felt the political heat.

By afternoon, the state government started issuing denials that it had tried to scuttle the Gandhi’s press conference, hinting that the affair was a matter involving the Congress and the tourism department.

However, by evening the Congress changed the venue of the press conference to the Taj Residency hotel in Lucknow.

The state’s additional cabinet secretary, Vijay Shankar Pandey, said “no cancellation letter had been issued”.

He said if the state government opposed Gandhi’s conference it would not have allowed the booking of the auditorium.

Pandey said UP chief minister Mayawati had expressed concern over the issue. Mayawati said it was “a cheap attempt by the Congress to defame the government”.

However, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh, who had booked the auditorium, said that tourism department officer Akshay Nagar rang him to say that the booking had been cancelled.

Nagar reportedly said that the department could not be booked for “political purpose”, Singh said. But Nagar claimed he had approached Singh only to seek some information.

The state’s director general of tourism, Avinish Awasthi, told Hindustan Times that the department did not know that the booking had been done for Gandhi. “As soon as we came to know about it, we allowed (the booking),” Awasthi said.

But Pratap said the department knew about Gandhi’s programme, as they had been interacting with security and intelligence agencies to fine-tune the arrangements.

UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the BSP was shaken by Gandhi’s popularity and had been trying to scuttle his programmes in the state.