For the concluding ceremony of the two-week-long Saifai Mahotsav on Wednesday, the landing of over two dozen flights at the Saifai airstrip earlier in the day set such a heightened tone of anticipation that despite the cold weather threatening to pull a bad show, the progressing day only jotted notes of glitter and cheer, largely because Saifai did not record power cut even for a single moment in the entire day.
The arrival of supporters in motorbikes, and sights of SP leaders in shining SUVs, were all but a spectacle for the locals who trailed behind the cavalcade in their vans, and then some from Etawah and neighbouring districts in their tractor trolleys, to reach the Niwas ground in Saifai, 19 km of National Highway 2.
With Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Zarine Khan, Mallika Sherawat, and others arriving in to perform as part of the concluding ceremony – organised in the memory of Ranvir Singh, cousin of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav — the hoi polloi fought with policemen guarding the VIP entry just so they could get a closer look at their stars.
Among those who lined the front row were the CM, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, PWD minister Shivpal Yadav, Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav, and Secretary to CM Anita Singh, along with other bureaucrats.
But the event wasn’t without its “expected” brouhaha.
While one Anil Kumar, a local shopkeeper, did not go to see the performances fearing he “may get hit by chairs thrown there”, Rahul Yadav, a resident of Karhal in Mainpuri, “after managing to somehow get inside came running out to escape injury from the chairs that people were throwing”.
Many like Rahul, meanwhile, kept requesting the policemen to allow them in until either the policemen gave in or those requesting gave up. Then there were some who waited for the arrival of the MLAs and MPS to tailgate them inside the ground.
The performances, meanwhile, came from some unexpected sources. Wife of Mulayam’s younger son, Aparna Yadav sang a song, as did rapper Hard Kaur, who, while chorusing Akhilesh aaj happy hai, even said in her addressing speech that she wanted the young CM “to become the Prime Minister of the country”.
Other singers sang ‘Man se hai Mulayam, irade loha hai’, a song composed for the SP’s election campaign.
While each performer spoke a few things in the SP leaders’ praise, Mulayam sat smiling through the entire performance till late night, when Madhuri Dixit, whose upcoming film Dedh Ishqiya has been made entertainment tax-free, too, was about to arrive.