Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan may have quit as chairman of the Kumbh Mela Committee owning moral responsibility for this past Sunday’s stampede at Allahabad railway station but he has earned praise from Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh for the arrangements made for the mega event.
Mr. Mulayam Singh was talking to reporters at Samajwadi Party headquarters where he had gone to address party workers on Tuesday. The SP chief lauded Mr. Khan for the facilities made for the pilgrims who have come over for the 54-day Maha Kumbh in Prayag (Allahabad ) from all over the country and abroad.
Describing the tragic incident as “most unfortunate”, Mr. Singh said relief and rehabilitation measures have been launched by the State Government and “our sympathies are with the families of those who lost their lives”.
Even as the Samajwadi Party president showered praise on Mr. Khan, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was in Allahabad on Tuesday, declined to comment on the Urban Development Minister’s resignation as chairman of the Kumbh Mela Committee. The Chief Minister said steps would be taken for improving the arrangements in view of the next “snan” (bathing) this Friday (Basant Panchami). However, Mr. Yadav also said that the arrangements have been appreciated by pilgrims and religious leaders alike.
Mr. Khan had taken the high moral ground when he quit the post on Monday following the stampede at Allahabad Junction that killed 37 and left nearly 40 injured. On Tuesday, the Urban Development Minister said in Sambhal that he is ready to resign as a minister if it is proved that there was mismanagement at the Kumbh site. In his first reaction following the grim tragedy on Sunday, Mr. Khan had blamed the Railways for mismanagement and its failure to control the surge of devotees which led to the stampede on platform No.6 of Allahabad railway station. But within 24 hours he had put in his papers as the head of the mela committee. The fate of Mr. Khan’s resignation letter addressed to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is not known, but a pat on the back from Mr. Mulayam Singh, who recently said that he was keeping a watch on the performance of the Akhilesh government ministers, has come as a respite for the Urban Development Minister.
It has also fuelled speculation in Samajwadi circles that Mr. Khan might have informed Mr. Mulayam Singh before stepping own as head of the committee.
A two-minute silence was observed at the Samajwadi Party headquarters in memory of the deceased with Mr. Mulayam Singh directing party workers to assist in the treatment of the devotees belonging to their areas.