Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has signalled growing differences with the Congress by withdrawing the VIP status he had extended to the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli. This means that as hot summer sets in, the two districts will not get 24x7 power supply anymore.
Rae Bareli is Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency and neighbouring Amethi that of her son and party number 2, Rahul Gandhi. Mr Yadav, who heads a Samajwadi Party government in UP, had extended the courtesy to the two Congress leaders nine months ago. Mr Yadav is also UP's power minister.
The SP provides external support to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, but its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has been extremely critical of the Congress in recent times. He has said he partners it under duress and is disinclined to continue the alliance beyond this term of Parliament.
As soon as 24x7 power supply was revoked on Thursday, the two Gandhi districts saw a four-hour power cut.
Senior power officials said the decision was not political, but necessitated by an acute shortage of electricity in the state. But only the Gandhi areas have lost VIP status; nine other districts including Mainpuri, Mulayam Singh's Lok Sabha constituency and Kannauj, that of the CM's wife Dimple, will continue to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.
Congressmen in Rae Bareli say that even with a VIP tag, only urban centres in these districts had uninterrupted power supply.