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Centurion Maya celebrates as sycophants bowl her over
Polly Wilson in Lucknow | August 23, 2007 12:50 IST
Indicating that her ultimate goal is New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister blatantly displayed her feudal style in a flamboyant celebration to mark the completion of her 100 days in office on Wednesday.
Eulogising her political mentor, the late Kanshi Ram, for his contribution to the Dalit cause, she declared, "We will build a memorial for honourable Kanshi Ramji in Delhi once we establish Bahujan Samaj Party rule in the capital."
Never before did any of her predecessors play it so loud and pompous at an event like this. Right from beginning to end, it was not only an unprecedented security net that made the two-and-a-half-hour show at Ganna Sansthan auditorium different from any other such event in the past, but the manner in which praises were sung for the chief minister by all and sundry, made it seem like a feudal 'durbar' with courtiers.
Barring the party's Brahmin mascot Satish Misra, other senior ministers seated on the dais made it a point to touch Mayawati's feet, while top officers of her personal secretariat lined up to offer her bouquets.
The event was filmed by a hired professional group from Delhi. Mayawati intends to digitise the film and distribute CDs to her rural constituents. It was understandable that a troupe of smalltime professionals sang paeans hailing her 100 days in office. But when a senior IAS officer holding charge of a divisional commissioner took the mike to dole out poetic praises for the chief minister, it became reminiscent of what the bureaucrat-turned-national awardee author Shrilal Shukla had spelt out in his famous Raag Darbari more than two decades ago.
The only significant part of the event was distribution of rewards to the 20-member team of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force. Mayawati gave each of the daredevils a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh along with a citation and out-of-turn promotion to the non-gazetted cops. The gazetted officers received a revolver as a special memento.
Residents of Dalibagh Colony had a tough time getting across to their own homes as the road was completely sealed for more than three hours. Security was so tight that even at the end of the programme, when invitees were asked to move for lunch laid outside, a separate enclosure for the chief minister and her select few ministers and officials remained out of bounds even for senior government functionaries and the media.
Mayawati's hour-long speech -- running into 17 pages -- was not followed by a question hour. The monologue was only followed by further endorsement of the "achievements" by her top officials.
The 550-seat hall was packed to its capacity as all senior bureaucrats and senior police officials had to be present as part of their duty. Several BSP legislators had to remain standing in the galleries. But that was what prompted Mayawati to display her magnanimity by declaring, "We need to have a bigger auditorium in Lucknow, I will get one built with at least five times the capacity of this hall very soon."
The hall was decorated with strings and bouquets made of rich orchids and expensive carnations. Police bands remained in attendance outside the hall to give the event a touch of grand celebration. Yet, neither Mayawati's speech nor the series of peaens sung for her drew any applause.
While no Opposition leader responded to Mayawati's invitation to attend the show, Samajwadi Party president Ram Saran Das remarked, "I fail to understand what is the logic behind spending so much money from the state exchequer to celebrate 100 days of a government which has the people's mandate for five years." He quipped, "Her actions give the impression that the chief minister was not sure about her own government's future."