Scramble to remove poll posters, banners from Lucknow streets (Lead, superseding earlier story)

March 4th, 2009 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow, March 4 (IANS) Local authorities were working overtime Wednesday to remove the large number of election posters, banners and roadside hoardings put up here by the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ahead of a visit by an Election Commission team to inspect observance of the model conduct code by political parties.
The local municipal corporation engaged an army of labourers to pull down the thousands of hoardings, banners and posters that had defaced nearly every city wall and lamp post and the ugly cloth banners strung across major streets.

Most of the hoardings were put up by BSP’s Akhilesh Das, the party’s candidate from Lucknow for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. He seemed to have grabbed every little space at each road junction as also along the major thoroughfares. Also, he made it a point to have Chief Minister Mayawati’s portrait prominently plastered on each of his posters and hoardings.

“Never before in the history of the state has any political party made such loud display of its self proclaimed achievements as Mayawati and I cannot imagine anyone other than BSP’s Lucknow candidate Akhikesh Das hogging every inch of the space in the entire state capital with his hoardings and posters,” Samajwadi Party state spokesman Devendra Chaudhary told IANS.

Lucknow municipal commissioner S.K. Singh said: “We never received any complaint about anybody’s unauthorised hoarding; now we are removing all this publicity material in view of the enforcement of election code of conduct.”

The model code of conduct imposes a ceiling on how much money a candidate can spend, and the ruling party was apparently afraid of tough questions about this from the election commissioners, given the quantity of publicity material on the streets of Lucknow till Tuesday evening.

Just as the official machinery is desperately trying to put up an “impressive show” before the election commissioners, opposition parties were gearing up to tell them about the state of affairs before the hoardings were removed.

“We have got everything videographed to prove what the officials have been up to,” said Chaudhary, who is equally vociferous about seeking a compete overhaul in the state’s police machinery.

“The BSP government carried out a complete reshuffle of key police officials to suit the ruling party during the elections, so we are going to urge the election commission to order a fresh reshuffle,” he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state spokesman Hriday Narain Dixit also proposes to raise the same issue. “We wish to demand immediate removal of senior state police officials, some of whom have been shamelessly working as BSP agents,” said Dixit.

The Congress party plans to focus on “restraining BSP ministers” from interfering in the election process, said spokesman Akhilesh Singh.

The Samajwadi Party too joins the Congress in highlighting how some of Mayawati’s ministers blatantly violated the election code of conduct during the recently concluded state assembly by-election in Bhadohi.

Significantly, however, the ruling party lost the seat to Samajwadi Party. “Had it not been for the interference of three Uttar Pradesh ministers, who camped in Bhadohi for three weeks, BSP would have lost by a much bigger margin than just 5,000 votes,” Chaudhary said.

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