Bees, multi-crore currency garlands add a flip to Maya’s rallies Malawati
The Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Mayawati has a knack of creating controversies. These keep her in not just national but also international news headlines. The Dalit ki beti’s much publicised “mother of all rallies” extravaganza became a subject of national debate thanks to the multi-crore currency garland presented to her on March 15 at the silver jubilee celebrations of her Bahujan Samaj Party. Far from being cowed down by the shock waves that the news generated throughout the country, Mayawati went right ahead and accepted the second currency garland said to be worth Rs 18 lakhs. the very next day from her party workers.
Senior party leader and close confidant of Mayawati, Mr Naseemuddin Siddiqui, presented this garland, made of different denominations notes of Rs 500 and Rs 100 to her along with other party members at a meeting held at the party office in Lucknow on March 16. The BSP is planning an Anti- inflation rally on April 14.
“Party workers from 18 divisions have donated one lakh each for this garland that was presented to Behanji,” informed Mr Siddiqui.
“From now onwards the party members have decided that with the permission of Bhenji we will present her with a garland of currency instead of flowers at every function”.
Earlier Mr Siddiqui had clarified said that the value of the controversial currency garland presented to Ms Mayawati on the day of the rally was Rs 21 lakhs and that it had been made with the small contributions given by the BSP supporters. The opponents had estimated its value anything from Rs 5 to Rs 21 crores.
So while the Opposition demanded a CBI probe into what they termed as a “vulgar display of wealth” Mayawati’s own state administration was asked to get busy probing how a swarm of honey bees had entered into the public meeting on March 15 when she was addressing the mammoth crowd of her supporters who had come from different part of the country. Alleging a “deep conspiracy” by malicious elements to disturb the meeting, which could have resulted in a stampede and deaths the government instituted a high-level police probe, by the DIG, Lucknow, into the sudden arrival of a swarm of bees at the Ramabai Ambedkar ground. The bees after hovering around the podium from which Mayawati was addressing the crowd for a good 15 minutes left just as quietly. But not before they sent jitters down the spines of the security personnel’s manning the event.
The 25th anniversary of her party and the 76th birth anniversary of the party founder late Kashi Ram may not have garnered the 25 lakh people but it provide, the politicians and the voters a chance to see the regal sight of a political leader of the downtrodden. Preparations had been afloat for weeks before the rally. Lucknow had been converted into police citidel with blue party flags, shimmering decoration lights all over the place. The Opposition lashed out at her for the misuse of both public money and state machinery to the tune of over Rs 250 crores. But by the end of the Day every politician worth his name was crying hoarse at the giant currency garland that was presented to Mayawati at the inaugural public function. The worth of the garland which was made up of currency notes of Rs 1000 sewed together, was gauged as anything between Rs 5 crores to Rs 21 crores by Mayawati’s opponents.
The garland had taken everyone by surprise. Initially even the media had no clue as to what exactly was the weird garland made of. But by late afternoon the news had spread like wild fire that it was not flowers but real, crisp notes that formed the basis of the garland. The question of this vulgar display of wealth was hotly debated in the Parliament. The Opposition demanded a probe into the incident. True to BSP autocrat style nobody was ready to speak up or cough up any details. Taking a suo motto cognisance the Income tax sleuths got alert. They asked for the photographs and the transcript of the minister.
The Chief Minister known for her extravagant life style is also being charged for flaunting the national currency as part of her personal attire. Yoga Guru Ram Dev said, “Money that should be used for the upliftment of Dalits is seen being worn as a garland.”
By Kulsum Mustafa in Lucknow