UP ministers on foreign trip, SP leadership watch Bollywood stars

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SP parties as people die in relief camps
Lucknow/Etawah, Jan 8: Eight Uttar Pradesh ministers left on a five-nation tour on Wednesday and a cultural event of the ruling SP with Bollywood stars in attendance went ahead, drawing fire from opposition parties over the "fun and frolic" when Muzaffarnagar riots victims were "suffering".

The ministers in Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet, who are part of a 17-member government delegation that also included some legislators, embarked on the 20-day-long tour of the UK, Turkey, Netherlands, Greece and the UAE to study Parliamentary techniques in those countries, official sources said in Lucknow.

Urban Development Minister Azam Khan, who is also in-charge of Muzaffarnagar district, led the delegation that also comprised ministers Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, Ambika Chowdhury, Om Prakash Singh, Abhishek Mishra, Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar, Shiv Kumar Beria and Yogesh Singh, the sources said.

Eight Uttar Pradesh ministers left on a five-nation tour.

Film stars like Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Alia Bhat, Sara Khan, Soha Ali Khan, music composer duo Sajid-Wajid and singer Javed Ali and their teams have already reached the Mulayam Singh Yadav family's native village in Etawah district in seven chartered aircraft for the grand finale of the annual "Saifai Mahotsav" that ends tonight.

With the state government under attack over the cultural extravaganza amid the controversy over Muzaffarnagar riots victims, the live coverage of the event has been banned by the district administration.

According to District Magistrate P Guruprasad, unlike in previous years, the live coverage of the event will not be allowed though one to two minute clips can be made. Besides the Chief Minister and his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav and other state ministers are due to attend the event.

Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh criticised the SP government for sending the ministers on "foreign junket", saying it was busy in "fun and frolic" at a time when people were dying of cold in the state and Muzaffarnagar riot victims were "suffering" and living in a "pitiable" condition.

BJP Chief Spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak alleged that the state ministers were interested in having "fun" instead of public service. "The way in which

ministers left for foreign tour shows they are not interested in working for the common man, who is suffering in the state," Pathak said. "Muzaffarnagar riots have earned a bad name for the state, people are dying there for lack of facilities and SP leadership is busy in enjoying performance of Bollywood stars in Saifai.

It shows how much concerned they are for the people," he added. The Chief Minister had defended the two-week long cultural event, calling it a Samajwadi tradition.

PTI

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