An Uttar Pradesh minister claimed on Friday that the state government was trying to invite West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, but had failed to get an appointment for the past 12 days.
"I will go in person to invite her if an appointment is received by Friday, otherwise an invitation will be sent by other means," Fisheries and Minor Irrigation Minister S P Singh Baghel said at a press conference here.
"For the past 12 days, our office has been trying to get time from her (Banerjee) to invite her for the Kumbh Mela. She seems to be very busy and, may be, does not want to attend it for some political reasons," Baghel said.
Asked whether the publicity for the Kumbh this time was linked in any way to the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha election, the minister replied in the negative. "It is just a coincidence!"
The UP government has earmarked Rs 2,800 crore for the religious gathering, along with various other projects like roads, bridges, drinking-water schemes, electricity and tourism development. The developmental work is being carried with another Rs 4,300 crore from other budgets, an official release said.
This expenditure is in contrast to Rs 1,214 crore spent for the Kumbh in 2013, the statement added. PTI BSM KK MAZ