Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday defended the annual `Saifai Mahotsav` amid criticism that the Samajwadi Party government spent crores of rupees and invited top Bollywood stars at a time when Muzaffarnagar riot victims were living in difficult circumstances in relief camps.
Addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister said, “We have been organising the Saifai Mahotosav since a long time whether we are in power or not.”
Claiming that the `Saifai festival` gives a major boost to tourism in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav said, “Locals had been preparing for a year for the Mahotsav"
A visibly angry Chief Minister, who earlier cancelled the premier of film ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ in Lucknow, said, “I am ready to answer questions on Muzaffarnagar riot and the relief works carried out by the state government.”
The young Chief Minister also lashed out at the media for false reporting and trying to malign the image of the Samajwadi Party-led government in the state.
“Those claiming that Rs 300 crore were spent on Saifai Mahotsava should apologise. Not more that Rs 6-7 crore were spent.” the UP CM said.
“The media should apologise to me, to Netaji for their negative reports on Saifai,”Akhilesh Yadav said.
Stretching his point further, Akhilesh said, “Rs 5-7cr is maximum budget every year for the Saifai Mahotsav, sometimes it exceeds to 10 cr,but never more than that.” “Most people connected with the Saifai festival are poor,” he stated.
“I think some channels hate Urdu and Lucknawi culture that is why they raised objections on `Dedh Ishqiya` being premièred here.
He also slammed media for slamming the Bollywood stars who attended and performed in the festival. “Salman Khan visited a children`s hospital. He paid for a child`s treatment. This was never reported,” Akhilesh retorted.
On the issue of Muzaffarnagar riot victims, the Chief Minister said, “Whatever was possible for the UP government we did it, to provide relief in such a large scale wasn`t possible for any other state.”
Akhilesh also defended his government`s decision to send some its MLAs on a study tour by saying, “UP government sent delegation of ministers on its own without permission of Centre.”
The harsh reactions from the UP CM came after criticism poured in for the ruling Samajwadi Party that it was having fun while many poor people in the state were suffering due to lack of proper arrangements by the state government.
Many Bollywood stars attended and performed at the annual festival of song and dance at the Yadav family`s native village in Saifai.