Akhilesh Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief, was "detained" at the Lucknow airport after he was stopped from boarding a special flight to Prayagraj city, 201 km from Lucknow. He was scheduled to attend a function of the Allahabad University Students' Union on Tuesday afternoon. Samajwadi Party workers protested across Uttar Pradesh, leading to clashes with the police in several areas.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was on Tuesday prevented from taking a flight to attend an event organised by the Students Union at Allahabad University, triggering a political storm.
Yadav had to take a private plane here but was told by a senior district official that the Samajwadi Party leader did not have the permission to do so.
A fuming Akhilesh Yadav, who returned home after arguing with the airport officials for about two hours, said the Uttar Pradesh government was so scared of him that they stopped him from going to Allahabad University.
Calling it “remote control politics of two-and-a-half men”, Yadav alleged that he was detained at the airport on the premise that his presence at the Allahabad University could lead to law and order issues.
The 45-year-old leader said that the ruling BJP, by committing such acts, had not only lost the upcoming LokSabha elections but also earned the ire of the youth.
The development triggered a war of words between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Samajwadi Party.
As the news spread, scores of Samajwadi Party workers and leaders rushed to the airport and raised anti-government slogans.
BahujanSamaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati denounced the action against Yadav.
She wondered if the central and state BJP governments were so afraid of the BSP-SP alliance that they were resorting to such “anti-democratic methods”.
The 63-year-old Dalit leader accused the BJP governments of trying to “curb our political activities”. “This is very unfortunate and undemocratic. It will be fought at all levels.”
The state government dismissed the allegations and said the university authorities had on February 2 asked Yadav not to visit as the university disapproved of “political participation in campus events”.
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.
After staying put at the airport for more than two hours, the former Chief Minister left for his residence in a huff.
Hundreds of Samajwadi Party (SP) workers took to the streets shortly after party chief Akhilesh Yadav was prevented from boarding the flight.
As soon as the news spread that the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had been prevented by the Yogi Adityanath government from flying in from Lucknow to Prayagraj earlier in the day citing law and order problems, the workers, wearing red party caps, took to the streets and raised anti-Modi and anti-Yogi slogans.
The protesters were led by Budayun MP Dharmendra Yadav, Phulpur MP Nagendra Patel and Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad.
Heavy security deployment has been made in Prayagraj, especially near the High Court premises where the protests are taking place. Rapid Action Force (RAF) has also been put on duty, a district official said.
There were also reports of the police using force against the agitators. Windows of parked vehicles broke due to stone pelting.
Similar protests broke out in many other places including Budayun, Sambhal, Mainpuri and Etah.
After failing to board the flight, Akhilesh Yadav told the media at the party office in Lucknow that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had deliberately precipitated the crisis out of fear that he would further expose the state and the Central governments.
“I had informed the university about my programme in December last year. A letter was sent to the district administration on February 2 as I did not want any inconvenience during the ongoing Kumbh. But I was not informed about the problems that the government is now citing,” he said.
In response, Adityanath lashed out at his predecessor, saying that the SP has a history of anarchy and the decision was taken by the district administration based on the threat assessment of violence. (IANS)