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Salman visited a hospital in UP, but no one cares: CM

Last updated on: January 10, 2014 20:17 IST

Akhilesh Yadav defends filmi bash

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday hit back at critics and defended the Saifai Mahotsav -- a festival organised by the state government -- saying the budget for the festival was around Rs six to seven crore, not Rs 300 crore as alleged by a section of the media.

Especially critical of a section of the media for running stories against the Mahotsav, the chief minister claimed that the daily, which had reported that the budget of the festival was Rs 300 crore, had sought an apology.

"It is being said purposely that the budget for Saifai Mahotsav was Rs 300 crore. Those who are making such a claim should apologise or else give the details of the expenditure made for the festival," Akhilesh said at a press conference.

"The person who has written such a story should be punished. We have a mela committee which keeps the expenditure details. And we should not be forced to launch a struggle," he warned.

Not naming the newspaper directly, the chief minister hinted that such a negative story was carried because its owner, a Member of Parliament, was denied a Rajya Sabha ticket by the party.

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Image: Sandeep Pal


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Akhilesh Yadav defends filmi bash

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"It's unfortunate that the artistes who have no knowledge about Muzaffarnagar riots were asked questions about it. You ask me. I am the chief minister and I am ready to answer them," he said.

Talking about the participation of film stars in the Mahotsav, Akhilesh said, "They have come earlier too when the SP was not in power. It's not right to humiliate them (the
artists) and ask how hey took part in the programme."

He lamented that though Bollywood superstar Salman Khan visited a hospital and offered help to the children there, it was not covered by the media.

Akhilesh also said that the Mahotsav, organised every year by its organising committee, locals and youths, is aimed to encourage the state's culture.

"It gives a platform to young artists, small traders and farmers and some Rs 6 or 7 crore are spent every year. And this time the amount spent was the same," he claimed.

The chief minister also defended his government's grant of Rs one crore to Dedh Ishqiya and Bullet Raja, saying it was part of the state's programme to promote tourism.

"It's also the policy of the government to encourage tourism," he said.

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Photographs: Courtesy: Twitter

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Akhilesh Yadav defends filmi bash

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Defending the foreign tour of 17 legislators including eight ministers, Akhilesh said it has been done by every government and the Centre's approval is a must for this.

Meanwhile, condemning Akhilesh for defending the expenditure and presence of Bollywood stars at the Saifai Mahotsav, opposition parties said that the tone and tenor of the CM was dangerous for democracy.

"The tone and tenor in which Akhilesh attacked the media is dangerous for democracy," said Bharatiya Janata Party state president Lakshmi Kant Bajpai.

"The Saifai Mahotsav was such a contrast to the people dying at the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar due to cold. It brought out the differences in the Samajwadi Party's actions and words. The Mahotsav, which started from rural culture, folk, kushti and kabaddi, remained centred at the performances of the dancers. And the CM's statement that people are interested in this was against Indian culture," he alleged.

He said that the BJP was not against organising the Mahotsav but at a time when people at Muzaffarnagar riots relief camps were suffering, spending money on such an event was not justified.

Congress leader and legislator Akhilesh Pratap Singh said it was unfortunate that the government, which “was found nowhere when people at Muzaffarnagar camps were dying of cold”, was present in full force at the Saifai Mahotsav.

"This has hurt the people. Had the government fulfilled its responsibilities, these questions would not have arisen," Singh said.

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Photographs: Sandeep Pal
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