Akhilesh Govt Paid Bollywood Celebs for Positive Comments? No

CLAIM

A message is going viral on Twitter with the claim that the Uttar Pradesh government under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has stopped a payment of Rs 50,000 monthly that 172 Bollywood celebrities used to receive for giving the Akhilesh Yadav government positive coverage in media and social media.

This particular tweet had 12K retweets and 24.8K likes at the time of writing this copy.

Many others shared similar tweets, with claims along the same line.

The message claimed that Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Raj Babbar and Nadira Raj Babbar are among those being paid this monthly amount and that these celebrities were being given the money to speak positively about the Akhilesh Yadav government.

Some of the tweets also insinuated that some Bollywood celebrities who had been speaking out against PM Modi in the wake of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the ensuing violence were doing so because they were no longer being paid for their positive comments.

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TRUE OR FALSE?

This claim is completely false and the money was actually a pension given to Yash Bharti as well as Padma awardees from Uttar Pradesh. The award had been instituted by the UP government under Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1994-95. Beneficiaries received a one-time cash award, and later, a monthly pension from the state government under this scheme.

Moreover, the news of the pension being halted was from 2017 and is not recent.

WHAT WE FOUND

While going through tweets of this sort, we came across an article by The Indian Express that a Twitter user had shared on one particular post.

According to the article, which was dated June 2017, the Yogi Adityanath government in March had stopped the monthly pension of Rs 50,000 that was being paid to Yash Bharti and Padma awardees from UP, soon after coming to power. The monthly pension had indeed been started by the Akhilesh Yadav government but was part of the benefits of the award.

Therefore, it is clear that the money was not being given to celebrities to speak positively about the Akhilesh Yadav government or any other government for that matter.

According to The Indian Express, the award recognised personalities for their contribution in the fields of literature, social work, medicine, science, film, journalism, handcrafts, culture, drama, music, education, sports, industry and astrology.

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Therefore, the claim in the tweets that Bollywood celebrities were being paid this money is untrue because the awardees are much more than just Bollywood stars and encompass a wide range of personalities in India.

The article also said that while the Mulayam Singh Yadav government started the award in 1994-95 with a commendation letter, a shawl and a monetary award of Rs 1 lakh, over the years, it had eventually grown to Rs 11 lakh, with Akhilesh Yadav reviving the award on the SP's return to power and increasing the amount.

The Akhilesh government also started the Rs 50,000 pension for those Yash Bharti awardees and Padma awardees who requested for the same in 2015-16.

The report further added that Adityanath in April 2017 ordered a review of the criteria for selecting the awardees. This came after allegations that undeserving people were receiving the money and complaints about the amount of funds being spent here.

According to a May 2017 article by The Times of India, an RTI query had around the same time revealed that the UP government in 2016-17 spent Rs 10.32 crore to give monthly pension of Rs 50,000 each to 172 beneficiaries who had been awarded the Yash Bharti Samman.

Bareilly-based RTI activist Mohd Khalid Jilani, who had filed the RTI had also appealed to CM Adityanath to stop giving pension under this scheme.

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However, in 2018, the UP government actually decided to reintroduce the pension for the Yash Bharti awardees, while reducing it to Rs 25,000. Therefore, the claim in the tweets that the pension had been stopped by CM Adityanath is also false because he reinstated it after a review.

According to an official notification and a July 2018 report by India Today, the awardees would be given Rs 25,000 monthly only if they were not the beneficiaries of any other government pension.

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