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Akhilesh Yadav defends Saifai, takes on media

Lucknow, Jan 10 : Coming under fire, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday justified his government's stand on the Saifai Mahotsav in the state, saying that a section of media should apologize for spreading the rumour of Rs 300 crore as budget for the event.


"One daily newspaper has allegedly made a story of Rs.300 crore as budget for the Saifai Mahotsav. The writer and the management of the newspaper who is claiming that Rs.300 crore have been spent on the Mahotsav should apologise to me and show the detail of the expenditure. If they fail to so, they should be punished," Yadav said at a press conference here.

Without naming the daily newspaper, the Chief Minister said that because its owner, a party MP, was denied a Rajya Sabha ticket, the newspaper carried such false story.

He said the expenditure is around Rs 7 crore to Rs 8 crore.

The Uttar Pradesh CM said that even if the Samajwadi Party (SP) is not in power, the Saifai Mahotsav is hosted every year.

The event is meant for the poor and the downtrodden villagers.

He also lashed out at the media for criticising the Bollywood stars including Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit Nene for performing at the event.

"Its it regretting that the questions were asked to the stars who didn't even know about Muzaffarnagar. They were insulted. Whatever you have to ask please ask me," said Yadav.

"Being mediapersons you have become jury and using abusive words...it's unfortunate," he said attacking a section of the media who have been running stories on the Saifai Mahotsav.

Yadav said the government did all it could have done for the Muzaffarnagar riots' victims.

Earlier, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit Nene on Thursday defended their presence and participation in the Uttar Pradesh government's cultural event Saifai Mahotsav, saying they were there for charity.

All this comes after the Chief Minister attended the Mahotsav on Wednesday even as his government faced criticisms over the Muzaffarnagar riots issue.

The event was held at a time when the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots and several victims forced to leave the camps set up for them triggered a controversy in the political paradigm of the state.

While at least 34 children had died of cold at Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in the relief camps set for riot victims late last year, the government had spent crores of rupees for the programme.

Communal riots struck Muzaffarnagar in September last year, leaving nearly 60 people dead and close to 40,000 homeless.

The violence was triggered when a young Muslim man was killed allegedly by Hindus for reportedly sexually harassing a woman.

With the spreading of the riots, thousands of people fled their homes and crowded relief camps where living conditions are poor and winter worsened the situation. Nearly 4000 of them have refused to return home fearing more violence.

--IBNS (Posted on 10-01-2014)

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