Demanding an apology from the media, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday defended the state government funded Saifai Mahotsava and said questions regarding the event should be directed to him.
Addressing a press conference, Akhilesh said the Saifai Mahotsav is organised as a part of the state government’s policy to boost tourism.
“The locals had been preparing for a year. The event helps the traders earn revenue,” said Akhilesh.
“Media should apologise to me and to Netaji for their negative reports on Saifai,” he added.
He came down heavily on television channels for targeting Bollywood celebrities who performed in the Saifai Mahotsava.
“It is sad that many channels are questioning the artistes who performed in the event. If you want to question, then you should ask me. I am the chief minister and it is Samajwadi Party’s government in UP. In the past also, they have performed in this event,” he said.
Rubbishing reports that Rs300 crores were spent on the event, Akhilesh said, “The government has spent at most 7 crores on the Saifai Mahotsav and this is what we spend every year.
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh had drawn flak for spending millions of rupees on its fortnight-long annual carnival 'Saifai Mahotsava' at a time when Muzaffarnagar riot victims were living in difficult circumstances in relief camps.
Opposition parties also attacked the ruling state government for sending its ministers on a foreign tour. As per media reports, around 10 million rupees were spent on the fiesta, which was attended by political leaders, film artists and corporate leaders.
Several Bollywood actors including Madhuri Dixit, Alia Bhatt, Salman Khan and Ranveer Singh performed at the event and seemed delighted with the arrangements made for them.
Besides the Bollywood big wigs, two dozen other TV actors, including comedians also performed at Saifai, which has become a major attraction for the people of the region including Etawah, Mainpuri, Firozabad, Shikohabad and Agra.
The festival, organized every year in memory of a late nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav, was into its 15th edition, but this year it come under heavy criticism from the Opposition parties as it was held against the backdrop of the controversy over the plight of Muzaffarnagar riot victims living in the open at the relief camps.
As many as 34 children are reported to have died in these temporary shelters unable to withstand the bitter cold that has swept the region.