Says a section of the media was playing up to “the fascist forces”

After Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s diatribe against the media, it was Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan’s turn to accuse the press of whipping up a controversy over the foreign tour of a U.P. delegation of a section of the media was playing up to “the fascist forces” Ministers and MLAs, which, however, has been cut short by three days.

The senior Minister, who led the delegation, alleged that by linking the tour with the plight of Muzaffarnagar riots victims, a section of the media was playing up to “the fascist forces” in a bid to strengthen the claims of the BJP prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.

Mr. Khan, who led the delegation, returned to the State capital along with other members on Tuesday. Later, he held a press conference at his residence.

Stating that India is a member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth, Mr. Khan clarified that the U.P. delegation had been invited for a study tour and that it was not a junket.

The five-nation tour was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Mr. Khan said the riot-hit were being used as a tool by the electronic media to jack up their TRP ratings. “The use of words ayyashi (debauchery) and fizul kharchi (wasteful expenditure) by a section of the media was derogatory. Two women MLAs in the delegation felt affronted.”

The Minister, who is described as the “Muslim face” of the Samajwadi Party, said the present controversy was a “conspiracy” to weaken and divide the community ahead of the Lok Sabha election. He said the relief and rehabilitation measures taken up by the government were not presented objectively. For the 22-member delegation, which visited Turkey, Greece, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, it was a great learning experience, he said. It had gone for a specific purpose of understanding the working of democratic institutions in the host countries.

The Minister said parliamentary delegations from the State had gone on study tours earlier also, adding he himself had accompanied four teams. From 1998 to 2003, the delegations were led by Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi and in 2004 by the then Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey.

Team members, including Ambika Chaudhary, Abhishek Mishra, Shivakant Ojha and Ghazala Lari, were present at the press conference.