Lucknow: If Prime Minister Narendra Modi's presence in Gurugram, Haryana, on Tuesday brought the city to a standstill and several MNCs declared the day off, Uttar Prdesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Vikas Rath Yatra is set to create a similar chaos on Thursday.
Akhilesh is set to embark on the yatra atop a modified Mercedes bus from Lucknow.
All schools in the state capital and Unnao have been shut owing to the "VVIP movement", which is all set to bring the state capital and the Lucknow-Kanpur highway to a grinding halt.
Elaborate arrangements are in place on the routes that the chief minister's Rath will roll on. The yatra is being seen as his first show of strength after the turf war with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav.
The District Inspector of Schools (DIOS) of Lucknow has asked all schools to remain shut in view of the traffic diversions in the state capital, as the convoy of the Chief Minister criss-crosses the city and other nearby places.
"We have been told to declare it a holiday as children might get stuck in long traffic snarl-ups," a school principal told IANS ruing the development, as the schools opened only on Wednesday after a four-day-long Diwali break.
Close aides of the chief minister, however, brush aside the criticism, saying in the "poll season" all this is bound to happen.
Traffic police have been put on standby to handle the large volumes of traffic on Thursday, as thousands of vehicles are likely to join the 43-year-old chief minister during his Vikas Se Vijay ki Ore (from development to victory) yatra.
Moreover, since the yatra is happening amid a power struggle between Mulayam-Shivpal on one side and Akhilesh and the young leaders on the other, a major show of strength is lately on the cards, leading to huge chaos.
"We expect more than 20,000 small and big vehicles to tail the Rath of our dear Bhaiyya ji (as Akhilesh is fondly called by his supporters) and the convoy could be more than 35-km long," said his enthusiastic supporters.
Thursday being a working day, it is certain to create problems for the office-goers and other commuters. More than two dozen diversions have been announced by the traffic department.
While the red-colour Mercedes bus has the images of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chief Minister himself, socialist ideologues Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and Jnaneshwar Mishra, his uncle Shivpal's picture is seen neither on the vehicle nor elsewhere.
The bus also has pictures of the flagship schemes of the state government – Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Free Laptop Scheme and 1090 Women helpline.
The 37-foot-long and 15-foot tall bus has all the facilities like Wi-Fi connection, telephone connectivity, a small wash room, a mini-war room and a motorised platform, which will be propelled up by a hydraulic shaft that will bring Akhilesh out of the bus, face to face with the people.
In the first phase, he will venture out from the La Martinere Boys College in Lucknow, and after covering more than 75 km will conclude at the stadium in Shuklaganj, Unnao.
The chief minister will end the Vikas Yatra the same evening and return to Lucknow. He will restart his Rath Yatra again on 7 November, after attending the silver jubilee gala of the Samajwadi Party on 5 November.