AAP is no threat, Saifai fest wasn't a mistake: Akhilesh clarifies

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AAP is no threat, Saifai fest wasn't a mistake: Akhilesh justifies
Lucknow, Jan 21: The Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh is in knee-deep controversies. But chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is unfazed. He is unnerved when media and other parties raise allegations and pose questions over Muzaffarnagar riot victims, MLA's foreign trip or the much-discussed Saifai Mahotsav. He defends himself and his party and says, Uttar Pradesh is a big state, so some incidents take place". In an interview to India Today, Akhilesh clarified his party's stand in these issues.

On razing relief camps and filing complaints against people refused to vacate:

Akhilesh plainly denied of any such occurence. A village pradhan was digging soil outside the camp, so some people started saying that our government was razing the camp. Nor is it true that the government gave any order to lodge FIR against those who were not leaving.

On Saifai festival

Akhilesh Yadav finds nothing wrong in Saifai Festival. It is being held for the last several years, he says. "The mela committee of Safai village and local party workers raise funds by taking donations. There have been good and bad days during the festival. The only time it was not organised was when SP leader Janeshwar Mishra had passed away", he said.

And what about the timing of festival? The event was held when people in relief camps was reeling under miserable living conditions, media had reported.

Akhilesh dodged the question and said, "The public in the region eagerly awaits the Saifai festival. It is very important for students, sportsmen, artists and local businessmen. This time we also organised wrestling and cycling events. We honoured Olympic medalists. The total expenditure on the Saifai festival was not more than Rs.8 crore. Only Rs.1 crore was given from the state's cultural department, for which there is a provision in the budget".

Ministers' six-nation junket

Akhilesh justified the trip and said that delegations from every party go for such trips every year.
"The tour is an initiative by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The Central Government gives permission for this. Its planning was going on for six months. Last year, a delegation consisting of politicians from the United States came to Uttar Pradesh to see our socio-economic development.", he said.

And the money for the trip? "For this trip, not only the government, some of the ministers and MLAs spent their own money as well", Akhilesh said.

Is AAP a threat to regional parties?

Akhilesh said he hardly felt threatened by Aam Aadmi Party. "We have been the aam aadmi for a long time. AAP has a white cap but SP not only has a cap, it also has a cycle", the UP CM said.

He also added a punch-line - "One red cap of Samajwadi Party is equal to 100 white caps of Aam Aadmi Party".

SP has a different style of functioning, Yadav said. "Every time an SP government comes to power in the state, we organise regular Janata Darbars. Now we're taking complaints on the Internet as well. That is our style."

On dynasty politics

Samajwadi Party is a major critic of Congress' dynasty politics. But in SP many of Akhilesh' family members hold key positions. To justify themselves, Akhilesh cited examples from foreign countries.
"Dynastic politics is a worldwide phenomenon. The Kennedy family, the Bush family and the Clinton family are all famous dynasties", he said. It is true that you can benefit from belonging to a political family but that is not permanent, he adds.

So how is SP different from the very Indian Congress party?

"We are not a dynasty hungry for power but a dynasty that struggles. We haven't got posts just because of our family but by struggling on the streets. The Samajwadi Party protests against power-hungry families, not families who are fighting for a cause", Akhilesh said.

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