New Delhi: A Bollywood night in Saifai, which had Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his family enjoying performances by stars such as Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone and Madhuri Dixit till late last night, has sparked criticism from political parties as well as on social networking sites. (See Pics)
Unfazed by the condemnation, Akhilesh Yadav even gifted Rs one crore each to two films - the yet-to-be-released Dedh Ishqiya, starring Madhuri Dixit, and the Saif Ali Khan-starrer Bullet Raja. Large portions of these films have been shot in the state and the Chief Minister saw this as reason enough to shower them with money.
A defiant state government had hired seven chartered flights to transport the film stars, who danced to popular numbers till late last night. The vulgar display of glamour and wealth, contrasting sharply with the plight of Muzaffarnagar riot victims, has come in for heavy firing not just from the Samajwadi Party's political opponents, but also the Twitterati, who haven't spared even the actors. (Watch: Akhilesh's Bollywood night - Muzaffarnagar victims forgotten?)
"Why blame cricketers succumbing to temptations when film actors, entertainers did the same in Saifai? It's about sensitivity too," posted former cricketer Shishir Hattangadi.
Popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma's decision to entertain the audience at the Yadav clan's ancestral village too earned flak. "@KapilSharmaK9 on your show Comedy nights..you talk & appeal for helping poor ppl in country..and on othr hand you perform in #Saifai," tweeted Abhishek Singh.
The extravagance came in for flak from the Samajwadi Party's friends as well as rivals. "It is improper, to say the least. It is most unfortunate,'' said CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta.
Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma remarked scathingly, "Children are dying, and they are having fun. There cannot be a more reprehensible act."
The SP leadership remained unrepentant. "The media is portraying this in a bad light," state cabinet minister Rajendra Chaudhary asserted.