Elaborate arrangements were being made for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's rally in Lucknow on March 15. Over a million people are expected to attend the rally on Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram's birth anniversary.
At least a million people are to converge here for the rally, marking the BSP's silver jubilee (which was last year but not held due to the general elections) and aimed as a "show of strength" for Mayawati, according to party sources. The day has already been declared a public holiday.
Participants, mobilised from each of Uttar Pradesh's 403 assembly constituencies, began arriving in the state capital from Friday evening.
A neatly laid out camp was already created for as many as 30,000 special guests at the Smriti Upwan, located just next to the rally venue - Ramabai Ambedkar Grounds. Those to be lodged here are important BSP functionaries arriving from across the country. They are also to be taken on a conducted tour of the city, primarily to be shown the new monuments erected by Mayawati for Kanshiram, Ambedkar and herself.
"We wish to show them what Behenji has done to pay her tributes to our ideologues - whose statues were installed at different parts of Lucknow, while some memorials were erected in honour of those who devoted their lives to the cause of downtrodden Dalits," said Panchayati Raj Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, who is also the principal coordinator of the rally.
The arrangements have been undertaken on a war-footing. New mattresses, bed-sheets and even toiletries have been arranged for the 30,000 special guests in the tented colony on the sprawling Smriti Upwan. A giant-sized dining hall as well as 2,000 toilets have come up.
Since the special guests had arrived a day in advance and were to stay on until Tuesday morning, it was a tough job arranging for food, transport for local sight seeing and for watching the special cultural show that will mark the grand finale of the silver jubilee celebrations at the 109-acre Kanshi Ram memorial, which being built at a cost of some Rs. 1,200 crore.
A make-shift amphitheatre was built to accommodate 100,000 party men invited to the cultural event.
Five caterers have been hired at Rs.1 crore each to ensure all meals for some 100,000 party workers, while separate arrangements are in place to provide food packets to the million participants expected for the rally.
Besides ensuring tight security, the state administration is busy in taking care of logistics including drinking water, transport and sanitation. A source claimed that the civic authorities are spending Rs.17 crore towards construction of temporary toilets not only around the venue but also along the route to the rally ground as well as the camps created for the party functionaries.
Nearly two dozen temporary dispensaries and makeshift hospitals have also been set up, while fire brigades have been requisitioned from neighbouring districts to remain in readiness for any contingency.
Asked to comment on the misuse of government machinery, Kushwaha denied the allegations, saying: "Every penny for the rally is being spent by the party. The government is only involved in making security arrangements and providing logistics, but we have paid for every bus that was hired for the rally and unlike other political parties, our volunteers buy train tickets for their travel".
Four deputy inspector general of police (DIG) level officers were detailed to supervise the rally security arrangements that were being personally overseen by the state police chief.