Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to lay the foundation stone for the Purvanchal Expressway, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav today sought to take the wind out of his sails by claiming it was his own government’s project which was being relaunched. “This was originally Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway, but the word Samajwadi has been dropped,” the Samajwadi Party chief told a press conference at the party headquarters here.
Almost at the same time, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma called a press meet refuting the charges. Sharma said by claiming credit for the projects being implemented by “the government of the day”, Yadav was insulting the development work itself. The planned 340-km expressway will connect the state capital Lucknow with Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 23,000 crore.
Attacking the BJP, Akhilesh Yadav said the specifications of the project had been lowered by the current government. “We used to claim that even if you move at 120 kmph, a glass of water will not spill on you,” he said. “When the land was being acquired from farmers, they had given it without any agitation, understanding the need for development,” he said.
“The SP had wanted to construct a six-lane, expandable to eight lanes, Purvanchal Expressway. This will remain six-lane and will not be expanded. Unlike the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be expanded, the Purvanchal Expressway cannot be expanded,” he said. The SP chief said there would be no service lanes under the new project, and there is no streetlight.
“The BJP people can do anything to lower the costs. The roads are being constructed under PWD standards. Who will construct the toilets? The SP had built amenities which could cater to the passengers of two buses simultaneously,” he said. Yadav said the BJP could do anything to stay in power, whether it was speaking lies or deceiving people. Only the BJP government had the “immense courage” to claim someone else’s project as their own without any remorse, he added.
The former chief minister also accused the BJP government of stealing credit for the metro rail line to Noida and the recently launched Samsung mobile factory in that township. “The foundation stone of the Samsung mobile factory was laid by us. Imagine, the foundation stone of the factory which was laid by (senior SP leader) Rajendra Chaudhary is now being inaugurated by the prime minister,” he said.
Yadav said when Narendra Modi was in Lucknow at an investors’ meet, he had praised the Malihabadi mangoes. But Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath stopped work on setting up a `mandi’, he charged. The same thing happened with the perfumery park in Kannauj, he said. “I had earlier said that `kaam boltaa hai’ (work speaks for itself) and still reiterate that the SP’s `kaam’ speaks,” he said.
He drew comparisons between the cost of expressways constructed by the BJP government and the one headed by him. “The SP had constructed an expressway in 19 months. Show that this expressway can be made in 17-18 months,” he challenged. He also claimed that the BJP has deceived the people of Purvanchal, as Ballia, Varanasi, Ayodhya and Gorakhpur were left out under the Purvanchal Expressway project.