Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati came out in support of her ally Akhilesh Yadav who was stopped at the Lucknow airport today from boarding a plane to Prayagraj. She described the episode as "anti-democratic" and "an example of total dictatorship of BJP government". "This is very unfortunate and this undemocratic step will be fought at all levels," Ms Mayawati tweeted.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted that he was "detained" at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport after he tried to board a special flight to Prayagraj to attend a function of the Allahabad University Students' Union.
Photos tweeted by Mr Yadav from the Lucknow airport show a police officer standing at the stairs of the aircraft, blocking the path to board. In another photograph , Akhilesh Yadav can be seen arguing with a police officer on the tarmac. A video put out by Akhilesh Yadav's media team show a man in civil clothes physically stopping him from entering Lucknow's Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport. An angry Mr Yadav can be heard shouting "haath mat lagayiye (take your hands off me) " before a member of his security team pushed him aside. Sources told NDTV the man was an Uttar Pradesh government official.
"Is the BJP government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh so afraid of BSP-SP alliance that it is resorting to anti-democratic methods to curb our political activities," Mayawati said in her tweet. Mayawati recently formed an alliance with Akhilesh Yadav for the upcoming national election.
Extremely condemnable that Samajwadi Party President and former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was stopped at Lucknow airport today in order to prevent him from attending programme in Allahabad. This is anti-democratic and an example of total dictatorship of BJP government.— Mayawati (@Mayawati) February 12, 2019
Akhilesh Yadav was planning to visit Allahabad University to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the students' union. The student wing of the Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Party Chatra Sabha, holds the post of president of the university students' union. The Samajwadi Party said its chief had been invited for the function by the students' union president.
"The government is afraid of oath-taking ceremony of a student leader and is stopping me at the airport to prevent me from visiting Allahabad," Mr Yadav said. Calling it "remote control politics of two-and-a-half men", Akhilesh Yadav said the schedule of the event and a detailed travel plan was sent to the authorities prior to his travel plan. "It is a function I had to attend and I had informed on December 27, 2018. But the government put a spoke in the wheel," he said in a press conference after he left the airport.
"When I looked out of my house at 6:30 am, I saw officials there," Mr Yadav said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the decision was taken by the district administration based on the threat assessment of violence. SP has a history of lawlessness and his visit could have created problems. There was a fear of student groups creating law and order problem," he said.
Allahabad University, meanwhile, had written to Akhilesh Yadav's personal secretary yesterday, informing him that politicians are not allowed for events at the university.
(With inputs from PTI)