Rejecting allegations that the row over VHP's 84-Kosi yatra was a case of "match-fixing" between Samajwadi Party and BJP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said that the saffron outfit's move was a "political drama" which his government had not allowed to be staged.
"Only a non-serious person can term it match-fixing. SP has always fought and stood against communal forces," Akhilesh said while talking to PTI at his residence today.
"An issue is being made out of our meeting with (VHP leader) Ashok Singhal, but in a democracy, anyone is free to meet a Chief Minister. Such talk is an indication of a mean mentality," he said.
Justifying the government's decision to ban the yatra, Akhilesh said, "It (the ban) was necessary as the yatra was not religious but a political one which could vitiate the communal atmosphere in the state".
VHP had scheduled the yatra in Uttar Pradesh from August 25 to September 13, but the state government had banned the same saying it would threaten the communal peace in the state.
"The yatra was planned ahead of Lok Sabha polls and the state government has not allowed it to be staged," he said.
Akhilesh said that Singhal had met him and his father, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, to seek permission for the yatra.
"But when officials reviewed the request and went through religious traditions, they found there was no precedent for a yatra during Chaturmas," he said.
"Such a Parikrama or Yatra was never organised in the past 50 years and, as per Hindu belief, it is performed during 'Chaitra' (April), which has already passed," he clarified.
"In the name of religion, an attempt was made to use saints as a tool, only to fulfil political designs," he said.
Akhilesh said that while the intentions of the Hindutva outfit were political, seers had themselves not approved of the yatra during this period.
"A 'muhurt' is sought for even small religious ceremonies in Hindu mythology. Only they (VHP) would be able to explain how saints fixed this time for the yatra," he said.
Akhilesh said that his government was focused on the development of the state and would not tolerate any attempts to undermine it.
"Irrespective of what the Opposition may say, the agenda of my government is development of the state and any attempt to create trouble will be dealt with strictly," he said.