Mayawati defiant, BSP says only currency garlands for her

Mayawati defiant, BSP says only currency garlands for her

BSP leader and Uttar Pradesh state Chief Minister Mayawati waves to supporters after being presented a garland made of currency notes, allegedly amounting to Rupees 1800,000 , at the party office in Lucknow on Wednesday. Mayawati has come under criticism in the past few days for accepting a similar garland allegedly of a higher value at a rally in Lucknow on Monday. AP





Even as the controversy triggered by the garland of Rs.1,000 notes worn by her on Monday raged across the political spectrum, Mayawati appeared at a meeting of her party leaders here and put up a defiant show.

Parliament was rocked by the issue on Monday and Tuesday with BSP's opponents disrupting proceedings and demanding action against Mayawati. The Income Tax department also said it would probe the issue.

As a fall-out of the controversy, Karnataka BSP spokesman Y N Sharma, who on Monday disclosed that it was a garland of currency notes, was today sacked from the post. He said he was being made a "scapegoat".

On Monday, Sharma made the disclosure when the party was trying to make out that it was a garland of flowers from Mysore forest. Today's display was also attacked by political parties including Congress, BJP and SP leaders who described it as a blot on democracy and a brazen display of love for money.

Today, the garland comprising notes of various denominations carried by five men was put around her neck at a meeting of party leaders two days after she was felicitated with 1000-rupee notes estimated between Rs 21 lakh and Rs 15 crore at a massive BSP rally here.

"We want to tell our opponents through the media that it is a matter of happiness that workers from 18 zones of the party brought collections in one rupee notes which has been strung around. The garland is worth Rs.18 lakh.

"We also want to announce that, Mayawati permitting, that wherever she goes, she will henceforth be greeted with garland of notes and garland of flowers," PWD Minister and the Muslim face of BSP Naseemuddin Siddiqui announced at the meeting to a thunderous applause of the gathering of partymen.

"Joh Behenji se tak raayega woh mitti mein mil jaayega" (whoever challenges Mayawati will be doomed), Siddiqui said. Mayawati's opponents demanded a CBI inquiry into the the display of wealth by Maywati.

Attacking her, Congress General Secretary in-charge of UP, Digvijay Singh said  Congress does not subscribe to this brazen display of wealth and will oppose this "terrible" corruption.

"Any chief minister who openly wears a garland of money in this fashion has to be accountable and transparent about where the money came from, from which bank it was withdrawn and who withdrew it," he said.

His party colleague and spokesman Shakeel Ahmed "This is a vulgar display of money in politics. This is  not good for any political party or a political leader."
Ahmed said Indian tradition and political decorum did not permit such vulgar display of money and muscle power. "She is displaying both," he said. While accusing Mayawati of violating basic democratic norms by accepting currency garlands, BJP also taunted Congress, saying it if was serious in its criticism of the BSP chief, then it should refuse the support extended by her to the UPA.

"On the one hand the state Government has said it has no money to pay as compensation to the next of kin of those killed in a stampede at Kripalu Maharaj's ashram, and on the other several crores are being spent to organise rallies to mark BSP's 25 years," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in Delhi.

"Today once again Mayawati received a garland with currency worth Rs 18 lakh and said she would continue to receive such gifts. This is a violation of basic norms of democracy... If she really cares for the Dalits, then the money should be spent on their education, health and development," he said.

Following the foot steps of Saddam Hussein, Mayawati has become the only living leader with her "life size statues" installed at various places, he said.
Defending Mayawati's action, BSP MLA Sayed Kazam Ali Khan said political leaders are garlanded at public functions. It was done in front of lakhs of people, not behind any closed room.

"When it comes to Mayawati, all political parties, irrespective of being against each other at the national level, gang up against her," he said.

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