- Akhilesh Yadav will set off on his Vikas Yatra on Thursday
- Major schemes launched by Akhilesh are highlighted on the bus
- Shivpal Yadav’s posters are nowhere to be seen on the bus
Akhilesh Yadav’s new rath is a snazzy set of wheels. 10 wheels actually on a modified red Mercedes bus that will be the 43-year-old chief minister’s home for the next many days as he tours Uttar Pradesh ahead of assembly elections.
Mr Yadav will set off on his Vikas Yatra on Thursday. On Tuesday morning, the rath drove up at his 5 Kalidas Marg office cum official residence in Lucknow and was instantly the cynosure of all eyes.
Mediapersons were told they could see, but not touch the vehicle.
Of what was visible, there is a hydraulic lift that will allow Akhilesh Yadav to be raised and address crowds during road shows and rallies from the bus. It has a CCTV camera, LCD televisions, sofas, a bed. A loudspeaker fitted on the bus played a campaign song about development.
There is no scope for doubt on whose campaign the red bus fronts. There is a big photograph of the chief minister riding a bicycle, his Samajwadi Party’s election symbol, towards the front of the bus.
Father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav gets two photographs towards the back and Samajwadi Party’s UP chief Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle, features nowhere.
Akhilesh and Shivpal have been engaged in an intense power tussle that has led to the chief minister’s estrangement from his father, who has consistently sided with his brother. Differences apart, Akhilesh Yadav will be back in Lucknow to attend the party’s 25th year celebrations on Saturday, to be presided over by Mulayam Singh.
The chief minister has said he is campaigning on his own; his father has said a second term for him should the party win the UP elections is not guaranteed.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi recently completed a six-week tour of UP, traveling in SUVs or sometimes in a bus.