The parties are on in Uttar Pradesh as 2013 winds down amid the whiff of the death of children in relief camps for Muzaffarnagar riot victims.
A couple cooking food at a relief camp for riot victims in Loi, Muzaffarnagar. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
The ruling Samajwadi Party’s Saifai Mahotsav is underway at chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ancestral village in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah district, while the decibel levels are rising in rival Bahujan Samaj Party camp for its chief Mayawati’s birthday on January 15.
Mulayam hits out at the opposition for “politicisation” of the Muzaffarnagar riots and minutes later attends the “ranga-rang karyakrams” (variety programmes) at the festival. It began on December 26 and will end on January 8.
Whenever the SP is in power, the festival becomes a government function. This year, the culture department’s budget for the festival is Rs. 1 crore.
In the BSP camp, its 21 MPs, 80 MLAs and 54 MLCs are getting ready to finance their chief’s birthday gift — a mega rally at Ramabai Ambedkar ground in Lucknow.
Read: UP govt hurts Muzaffarnagar riot victims with words and deeds
Each MP has been told to contribute Rs. 5 lakh while MLAs and MLCs will donate Rs. 2 lakh each. Senior BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui passed the instructions recently. Thereafter, no BSP leader is ready to talk on record about the rally kitty.
On Monday, Mayawati reviewed the preparation for the rally. She also lashed out at the SP government for evicting riot victims from camps.
Earlier this month, HT published a series of stories highlighting the death of children in relief camps.
After denying the deaths, the SP government constituted a fact-finding committee on the Supreme Court’s directions.
The committee said 34 children — all below 12 years — had died between September 7 and December 20.
The riots in western UP’s Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in September had left 61 dead and uprooted more than 50,000 people from their homes.
SP leaders bristle at questions on Saifai Mahotsav at a time of pain for riot victims. “Whenever the SP government does any public-connect event or programme, why do rivals and the opposition get restive. It is a festival for rural folk, promoting rural art, culture and tradition,” said minister and SP spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhary.