Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, facing scathing criticism over organising the Saifai festival in his home district Etawah, on Friday asked the media to apologise for their reports. Otherwise, he said the workers of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) would take to the streets.
In a hurriedly-called press conference, Akhilesh expressed his anger and anguish against the media houses, which covered the lavish Saifai festival extensively, painting the SP government in a negative colour over the manner it went about organising a glamorous show featuring item girls and famous Bollywood stars such as Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan, while ignoring the wails of Muzaffarnagar riot victims in relief camps.
Akhilesh was, however, unapologetic for the reported extravagance and strongly defended the Saifai festival celebrations and the Bollywood heroes and heroines.
He came down heavily on a Hindi daily for reporting that more than `3,00 crore was spent on the festival, saying it was trying to blackmail the SP.
“The owners of the newspaper had once begged to Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) for a Rajya Sabha ticket.
“This is happening as we have failed to heed their request,” Akhilesh said and added that if the newspaper did not prove the figure, the government would be compelled to take action.
The Chief Minister also appeared agitated over the reports by a TV channel and scolded its correspondent.
He said there was a channel, which did negative reporting on the Saifai festival, indulging in unethical practices.
Akilesh pointed out that during the elections, the higher-ups of the same channel had interviewed him on board a helicopter but did not air the same for marketing reasons.
“The language used by the news channel is highly objectionable,” he said.
Despite drawing widespread criticism over squandering money at the Saifai festival when hundreds of riot victims are living in relief camps, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav defended his action, saying this was nothing new and an old practice, and emphasised that such shows were important to promote folk arts and artistes.