UP govt's worries refuse to end

At a time when hundreds of displaced Muzaffarnagar riot victims braved chilly wind under the open sky in relief camps, several senior UP ministers, perhaps taking a leaf out of Karnataka legislators, have left on a study tour to five countries.

The top Samajwadi Party leadership, including party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav were busy with an annual festival organised at their ancestral village of Saifai in Etawah district.

Opposition parties have condemned the foreign tour by so many important ministers and the festivities at Saifai at a time when the state was reeling under severe cold wave conditions and people were dying from cold.

The SP leaders have defended the tour and Saifai festival and instead slammed the media for blowing issues out of proportions. The government also banned the entry of cameras at Saifai festival, which will conclude on Wednesday with a performance by Bollywood actors Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit. Soha Ali Khan and Ranveer Singh were also likely to be present there.

According to sources, chartered planes have been sent to ferry the actors to the festival. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav defended the festival saying that it promoted the local culture besides providing financial support to small traders.

Congress state chief Nirmal Khatri said that it was “criminal” to spend such a huge amount of money on item songs and dance shows when the people of the state did not have the means to fight the biting cold. 

As if to add insult to injury, a 17-member delegation that included eight senior ministers left on a 20-day long tour of Greece, the UK, Netherlands, Turkey and UAE to “study parliamentary techniques” in those countries. 

Those in the delegation also included Azam Khan, who was in charge of riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district. Khan defended the tour saying that they needed to study how the legislatures function in other countries.

CM opted out

Sources said that Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav were also initially part of the delegation but they later opted out.

The state government claims that the trip will only entail an expenditure of Rs 5 lakh per person but the opposition parties have slammed the tour terming it as a “cruel joke” with the people of the state.

“The trip is nothing but have fun and frolic,” said Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh. BJP leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that it was shameful for the ministers to “enjoy” when the state was facing so many problems.

Omar twitted on Wednesday that “Clearly no one told the UP legislators that you don’t head to countries like the UK, Turkey and Greece for a junket in winter, only in summer”. 

Earlier, he criticised UP Home Secretary A K Gupta for his remark on children’s deaths in Muzaffarnagar relief camps. Gupta had said nobody dies of cold and if they did, how could people be living in Siberia.

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