Says it may anoint either Meira Kumar or Shinde as PM

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Thursday claimed that the Congress was so scared of her Dalit following that it may anoint Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar or Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, both Dalit leaders, as Prime Minister to split those votes in the State Assembly elections next year.

She expressed her apprehension in her speech delivered after the inauguration of the Rs. 685-crore National Dalit Memorial and Green Garden at Noida, a gateway to Delhi. The event and her address, which was replete with political innuendos and pot shots at her rivals, were seen by many as an election campaign.

‘Congress ignored Dalit icons’

Asserting that not a single Dalit vote will shift to the Congress or any other party not only in Uttar Pradesh but in any other part of India, she said the Congress had no place for Dalit icons and had ignored them during its long rule.

Referring to the various memorials dedicated to leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi on the western bank of the Yamuna river, she said she had set up memorials to Dalit leaders and icons on the eastern bank. The message was clear: if the west bank belongs to the Congress, the east bank was the BSP's.

Taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, she said when the Central Bureau of Investigation under the BJP had initiated cases against her for alleged disproportionate assets, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had assured her that there would be justice when the Congress came to power at the Centre. “But in eight years, the Congress, which misuses the CBI, has kept the cases alive to gain political mileage.”

‘Against graft, criminalisation’

Positioning herself against “corruption and criminalisation,” she said Uttar Pradesh had suffered on both counts because of the misrule of previous governments. “Our government is committed to root out both, which are a legacy of the past.”

Breaking her silence on the movement against corruption, she welcomed any such campaign be it by Gandhian Anna Hazare, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, or any other outfit or political party provided it was selfless and above caste and communal politics.

In this context, she ridiculed BJP leader L.K. Advani's rath yatra against corruption as a “nautanki” (drama) and said he should have launched it from Karnataka (whose Chief Minister had to be removed on corruption charges) rather than from Bihar. “This yatra is to revive his stake for the Prime Minister's chair.”

Reiterating the demands for Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh, as well as enhanced reservation in education and jobs for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the Chief Minister blamed the Centre and previous State governments for lack of development in Uttar Pradesh. “The Centre has not given us the assistance we had sought under special package and the previous State governments have left us a legacy of under-development.”

Defends statues

In a bid to silence criticism on her spending public funds on developing parks which showcases her party symbol (elephant) and huge statues of Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and herself, Ms. Mayawati said only one per cent of the State's annual plan fund had been spent on the projects here and in Lucknow. The money would be recovered by levying an entry fee of Rs. 10 per head.