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Mayawati relents; Rahul's press meet allowed

By Sharat Pradhan
Last updated on: December 07, 2009 17:09 IST
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Relenting on account of mounting criticism, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati finally gave her nod to a press conference by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in Lucknow on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, permission for the press meet had been withdrawn, triggering much criticism and debate on the issue. 

The withdrawal of permission came to light on Monday morning when a Special Protection Group team went up to the state tourism directorate auditorium for making necessary security arrangements -- that had been hired by the UP Congress Committee as the venue for the press conference.

SPG sleuths were flatly told to leave the venue, as there was no mention of Rahul Gandhi's press conference in the requisition for allotment of the auditorium.

However, following much media bashing, the state administration went in for an apparent damage control.

Mayawati's trusted aide Vijay Shankar Pandey, who was also the additional cabinet secretary as well as principal secretary to chief minister, hurriedly convened a press conference to clarify, "We never cancelled the allotment."

He said, "Some confusion was created initially because UPCC had not mentioned the purpose for which the auditorium was being hired; however as it stands now, there was no problem and they are free to hold their press conference."

Tourism director-general Avanish Awasthi, said, "We were told this morning that the venue had been booked for Rajul Gandhi's press conference, which meant that we would have to hand over the entire place to SPG and therefore shut our directorate for the day on account of the VVIP's security concerns."  He went on to add, "But there is no difficulty now."

Rahul is on a two-day visit to the state, where he is aggressively trying to prepare the party for the next state assembly elections in 2012. Rahul, who began what was better termed as 'Mission UP 2012' from Aligarh on Monday, would arrive in Lucknow on Tuesday after spending the night in Hardoi. 

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow