Opposition says riot-hit people are languishing in camps

Senior leaders of the Samajwadi Party, including party supremo Mulayam Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, are actively participating in the Saifai Mahotsav, an annual function held in their ancestral village in Etawah. On Sunday, party MP Ram Gopal Yadav attended the carnival as chief guest at a children’s event.

The timing of the 14-day carnival has raised eyebrows, coming as it does at a time when hundreds of riot-affected people are languishing in relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in poor conditions in biting cold. The State government recently admitted that 34 children died in the camps due to cold.

Opposition parties have lashed out at the SP for its “insensitivity”. BJP State president Laxmikant Bajpai said the SP’s acts were shameful as it was engaged in raag-rang (frolic) even as the riot-affected persons lived in misery.

“[Ram Manohar] Lohia wouldn’t have been able to bear this kind of socialism. What is the compulsion for hosting the grand event,” Mr. Bajpai asked.

Inmates scared: Lalu

Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad, who visited the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and met the victims, told The Hindu that the inmates were living in “distress” and were “scared” to return home; their only plea was to get a safe place to shift.

Speaking to the camp inmates, Mr. Prasad, who is out on bail after his conviction in the fodder scam, said: “Ever since [Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra] Modi’s close aide Amit Shah came to Uttar Pradesh, there have been efforts to communalise the atmosphere. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh fascist forces led by Modi are trying to communalise things. We need to curb it together, not be slack.”

Mr. Prasad said he spoke to Mr. Akhilesh Yadav and asked him to “take steps to ensure the well-being of the riot victims.”

Old tradition: CM

Defending the event, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav said it was a “decade-old Samajwadi Party tradition.” Mr. Ram Gopal said the mahotsav was conceptualised to revive local culture and fight western influence.