Mayawati blessing for cancelling Rahul’s address to students?

October 25th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiLucknow, Oct 25 (IANS) While the Uttar Pradesh government has denied its role in preventing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from addressing university students in Kanpur, informed sources say that the move could not have been possible without Chief Minister Mayawati’s backing.Rahul Gandhi was to address students of the Kanpur-based Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University but the conference hall was locked and he had to interact with students in the canteen.

Witnesses confirmed that Kanpur Commissioner Navtej Singh and District Magistrate A.K. Sagar visited the campus just before vice chancellor V.K. Suri shut the doors on Gandhi.

According to university sources, the two officials drove down to the vice chancellor’s residence Friday morning to ask him to call off Gandhi’s proposed address.

“Although I was not with the vice chancellor when the officials arrived, the jitters they gave to Suri were visible on his face no sooner than they departed,” a university official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Unconfirmed reports said Suri also received a call from Uttar Pradesh Agriculture Production Commissioner Anis Ansari, who is part of the governing council of the university.

Security personnel deployed on the campus for the Congress general secretary’s security were seen dispersing shortly after the visit of the commissioner and district magistrate.

Suri justified his move saying: “Actually, no student was interested in interacting with Rahul Gandhi and I was told that there would be less than 10 students turning up for the show. In order to save everyone from embarassment, I decided to cancel the programme.”

Highly placed sources here maintained that instructions for not letting Gandhi address the students came from a member of Mayawati’s inner coterie.

Said a senior bureaucrat: “Who could dare to issue a diktat of this nature unless there was a word from the top? After all, officers know what happens when they initiate suo moto action in such cases.

“The suspension of the principal revenue secretary Balwinder Kumar earlier this week for allotting land to the central government for a rail coach factory in (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi’s constituency of Rae Bareli without approval of the (state) cabinet is still fresh in the minds of the officers.”

While the home department has denied any role in the Gandhi episode, those close to Mayawati too refuted the allegation.

“Why would we stall an inocuous interaction of any political leader with students on the campus,” asked additional cabinet secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey.

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