RAMPUR, UP: The 75th birthday bash of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who rode an imported Victorian-style 'buggy' on Friday, kicked up a controversy over its funding with party leader Azam Khan saying that money has come from terror group Taliban and Dawood Ibrahim.
Thousands of Azam's supporters accompanied the 'buggy' (horse-driven carriage) carrying Mulayam, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav besides Khan, a state minister, as it proceeded towards the venue, Jauhar University, where the SP chief will celebrate his birthday by cutting a 75-feet-long cake at midnight. The buggy is stated to have been imported from London.
The two-day birthday celebrations starting on Friday was organised by the ruling party in Khan's constituency in Rampur. Khan is the chancellor of Jauhar university.
As the celebrations were set in motion after Mulayam's arrival here, Azam's comments over the funding fuelled a controversy.
When questioned about the funding for the grand event, an irate Khan, who has left no stone unturned to make the celebrations successful, said money has come from Taliban, a terror group and Dawood Ibrahim, an underworld don.
"Why does it matter where the money for celebrations is coming from? Some have come from Taliban, some from Abu Salem, some from Dawood (Ibrahim), some from terrorists...," he said in an apparent sarcastic response.
Azam had also kicked up a row on Thursday when he suggested that the Taj Mahal, the monument of love in Agra, and the income generated through it should be handed over to the Wakf Board contending that the monument is a mausoleum.
"Taj Mahal is a mausoleum and each mausoleum is 'Waqf' and comes under the Sunni Central Waqf Board," he had said.
Mulayam and his son Akhilesh earlier alighted at Mundha Pandey from a special plane and were garlanded by scores of dignitaries. Thousands of students and SP activists shouted 'netaji zindabad' slogans.
The procession passed through 200 welcome gates, especially erected with flowers and other decoration material, while the surroundings glittered with electric lights in an atmosphere reminiscent of the old traditions of Nawabs being accorded a grand welcome to the city.
Bunches of red and white balloons lined spruced-up roads along with big banners in Rampur wishing Mulayam.
Police personnel in large number arrived from various districts of the state and have been deployed at various points to keep a vigil throughout the procession route.
The SP supremo will lay the foundation stone of a medical college here on Saturday.