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Phoolbagh submerged, officials on tenterhooks

JUST TWO hours of rain has given palpitations to the authorities. The entire Phoolbagh ground has been submerged, where Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has planned a show of strength before the rally of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
None | By HAIDAR Naqvi, Kanpur
PUBLISHED ON JUL 27, 2006 12:12 AM IST

JUST TWO hours of rain has given palpitations to the authorities. The entire Phoolbagh ground has been submerged, where Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has planned a show of strength before the rally of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The ground was the personal choice of the CM for the distribution of allowance to unemployed youths on July 31.

For five days, the battery of officials was out day and night overseeing the pandal getting erected, which has to accommodate a minimum of 20,000 people.

Now that the rains have washed off all efforts, all energies were directed at saving whatever was left and clearing the water at the earliest.

“The work has been stopped temporarily and we are praying the city goes without rain for another four days. If it rains the way it did today, certainly the event will get affected,” said an official involved with the project.

Earlier, the CM was to hand out the cheques at the Arampore stadium. But it being on fringes of city, the CM changed his mind and summoned the district magistrate to Lucknow and said that he wanted Phoolbagh as the new venue.

The instructions came when arrangements were near completion and the workforce hade to be abruptly relocated to the historic ground.

Such was the importance attached to the rally that cabinet ministers were reviewing arrangements on a regular basis. Taxation and financial advisor to the CM, Surendra Mohan Agarwal is perhaps one who has his political future at stake. Agarwal is to contest Assembly election once again from Generalgunj and he’s at the helm of affairs of the event. Its success will dictate whether he can take political mileage out of it or not.

Meanwhile, word is out that local authorities are being involved to help generate resources for massive influx of people. An SP insider says, “This event is planned to serve as a trailor for the Congress. More is in store”.

But it all depends on the mercies of the Rain God.

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