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Gulam Jeelani, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, September 27, 2012
This year’s Lucknow Mahotsav will have a ‘Mulayam touch’ as wrestling and cycling are all set to debut in the annual event. It is a well-known fact that the two sporting activities are dear to Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party, particularly its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. The SP chief has been a wrestler. As for the cycle, it is the party symbol. Officials, however, denied any ‘SP link’ to the mahotsav’s new ‘introductions.’

“Among the many new events, we plan to introduce wrestling and cycling at this year’s 10-day cultural extravaganza,” mahotsav committee secretary R S Yadav said. The decision was taken at the committee meeting headed by divisional commissioner Sanjeev Mittal on September 18.

Yadav further said, “We were told that there is a famous ‘akhada’ (wrestling arena) in Sadar area in Lucknow where many wrestling enthusiasts used to wrestle. Since the culture is now diminishing, keeping a slot in the mahotsav is an effort to revive the sport.” Incidentally, Mulayam used to visit the Sadar ‘akhada’.

As for cycle race, Yadav said, “Somebody informed us that a cycle race is being organised in October. We will request the organisers to defer it so that it can be included in the festival. It is to ensure that people from lower strata of society participate in the event.”

Apart from two sports, a book fair will also make a debut this year. “Stalls of various educational institutions will be set up,” said Yadav. Considered as a celebration of Awadh culture, the state government organises the festival from November 25 to December 5 every year in Lucknow.