Barely 300km from the Muzaffarnagar relief camps where children of helpless riots victims have been dying of the cold, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav coolly enjoyed the ‘nagin’ dance by Bollywood sex symbol Mallika Sherawat in their native Saifai village in Etawah district on Wednesday.
This was the last day of the glittering Saifai Mahotsav where dhak dhak girl Madhuri Dixit and Dabang hero Salman Khan also entertained the motley gathering of top politicians, ministers and bureaucrats as well as local villagers. The 15-day event was estimated by sources to have cost about Rs. 30 crore though the state government had budgeted Rs. 1 crore for it.
In Lucknow, the UP Film Bandhu approved Rs. 1 crore financial assistance each to Dixit-starrer Dedh Ishqiya and Bullet Raja that were shot in UP.
Indifferent to all-round criticism of its excessive attention to the annual festival when riots victims were struggling from day to day in the miserable refugee camps, the SP government ensured that performances by about 25 actors flown in by chartered planes supplied oodles of Bollywood masala to the finale of the 15-day festival.
The excited audience not only lapped up the spectacle but also invited mild force by the police on occasions when they threatened to transgress the boundaries of propriety.
Madhuri Dixit’s performance was greeted by young lads with shrill whistles every now and then. And when the power supply failed, the intoxicated mob even flung chairs in desperation, leading to utter chaos for about 10 minutes.
Among those enjoying the performances were Mulayam Singh Yadav – who nurses prime ministerial ambitions -- Akhilesh Yadav, his MP wife Dimple Yadav and other members of the ruling Yadav family, along with a host of ministers, MLAs, MPs and top bureaucrats.
In a bid to ensure that the “boisterous” media would be unable to show “offensive” visuals of the extravaganza to the less privileged people, the state government banned cameras from the venue.
Reacting to the widespread criticism for the event, senior SP leader and minister Rajendra Chaudhary, said, “No parallel can be drawn between the Saifai Mahotsav and the Muzaffarnagar riot victims.
The government is taking all possible measures to rehabilitate the riot victims.”to “eliminate the pressure on the situation” and permit the “efforts” that are ongoing to resolve the issue.