With the 2012 state assembly elections not very far, the Samajwadi Party has got into the election gear. And to top it all, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has pushed his son Akhilesh Yadav to take the lead.
Taking a cue from his father, who had taken out a 'kranti rath' in the late eighties and nineties, Akhilesh on Monday set out on his 'rath yatra', which ostensibly aims to spread the word about rampant corruption in the Mayawati regime, even as the obvious objective of the yatra was to get to know the pulse of the people across the state.
The three-month-long 'yatra' would cover the entire state in a phased manner.
"Well, while exposing the corruption that prevails at all levels under the Mayawati government, we also intend to tell the people of all that our party has in store to offer to them," Akhilesh told mediapersons before seeking the blessings of his father as well as other senior SP leaders, who converged at the state SP headquarters here for the formal send off.
While Mulayam chose not to address the gathering, his deputies Mohan Singh and Azam Khan gave long speeches to inspire Akhilesh and his youth brigade that was in full gear to follow the special 'rath' on cars and motor-cycles.
Hailing Akhilesh as the future of Samajwadi Party, Mohan Singh expressed hope that the junior Yadav would prove his mettle by not merely exposing the "demonish" face of the Bahujan Samaj Party government but by also ensuring their ouster.
Khan was of the view that since Akhilesh had imbibed all the combative qualities of his father, he would "being about the nemesis of the BSP in UP."
Accusing Mayawati of "not only betraying the cause of Dalits and other downtrodden castes, but also that of Other Backward Class and minorities", he sought to warn Muslims against the BSP supremo by highlighting her past bonhomie with communal forces."
With hundreds of cars and motor-cycles trudging along Akhilesh's 'rath', the 'yatra' meandered its way to Kanpur almost at a snail's pace.
The 83-km distance took almost the whole day to negotiate as SP activists, donning red caps had assembled at short intervals all along the highway where Akhilesh made it a point to halt for a while.
Making a night-halt at Kanpur, the 'rath' will traverse through the streets of Kanpur on Tuesday. He would return to Lucknow on Wednesday after covering Unnao during the day.
The next phase of the yatra would cover Raebareli, Sultanpur and some neighbouring districts between September 19 and 24.
"We will make it a point to go to every nook and corner of the state to apprise the people about how the blatantly corrupt ways of the present government had not only caused untold loss to the state, but had also deprived the masses of their legitimate rights and also how the fundamental democratic values stood completely crushed," Akhilesh told mediapersons.