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UP government slaps 136
cases against Mulayam

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow/Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi | April 14, 2003 17:02 IST

Chief Minister Mayawati has struck back at the Samajwadi Party for releasing videotapes and Compact Discs (CDs) showing her seeking contributions from BSP MPs and legislators for the party and criticising religious rituals.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was on Monday slapped with as many as 136 criminal cases.

"He had misused the chief minister's discretionary fund during his tenure in the mid-nineties," Mayawati charged at a mammoth party rally in Lucknow on Monday.

The cases are spread across 40 of the 73 districts of the state.

SP general secretary Amar Singh, the party's leader in the Vidhan Sabha (state assembly) Azam Khan and Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger brother and party secretary Shiv Pal Singh Yadav were also booked under various provisions of the law.

Referring to the two CDs that prompted this action, Mayawati said, "Mulayam and his supporters had doctored and edited the tapes with the sole intention of defaming me."

"He will have to face the consequences of twisting facts and cooking up fake stories against me and for surreptitiously recording my party's private function," Mayawati said.

"Mulayam will be put behind bars for the rest of his life," she declared to applause from the audience, who had braved the scorching 42 degree Celsius summer heat to gather at the sprawling 27-acre venue, carved out of land taken over from the local district prison.

The rally, touted as a Vishal Pardafaash Maha Rally (a massive rally to expose opponents), was meant to celebrate the birth anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution.

But Mayawati spent most of the time criticising her political rivals, mainly Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress party.

The chief minister accused prominent Congress leader Motilal Vora of 'financial bungling' during his tenure as Uttar Pradesh governor in the early nineties.

"I have ordered a high level probe into the misuse of the governor's discretionary fund," she said.

"Vora doled out as much as Rs 180 million (Rs 18 crore) out of this fund over a span of eight months in gross violation of laid down norms and rules," she said.

"Let it be loud and clear that he too will not be spared," she thundered.

Dressed in a light peach coloured salwar kurta, Mayawati spoke for nearly 100 minutes from an imposing dais designed and draped in blue and white, the ruling BSP's colours, as two high-powered split air-conditioners countered the hot winds that swept the venue all day long.

Unofficial estimates put the figure of those present at above 200,000, substantially lower than that at the last BSP rally in September 2002, which Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani referred to as 'the largest rally I have seen'.

"This is the harvesting season and villagers cannot afford to leave their crops in very large numbers," explained a BSP functionary.

"The numbers are nevertheless impressive because people from different corners of the state gathered in Lucknow despite the scorching heat," he said.

Three people died after the rally, which was followed by a severe thunderstorm around 1830 IST. One person died when the shamiana fell on him while he was loitering around the venue of the rally (before the thunderstorm).

Two persons died after the vehicles they were travelling in were involved in accidents.

In Delhi, SP leader Amar Singh hurriedly called a press conference just hours after the Lucknow rally and demanded a CBI probe into Mayawati's charge that the videotapes had been doctored.

He  took up the accusation regarding misuse of the CM's discretionary fund.

"Even the late Virbahadur Singh and Narain Dutt Tiwari had dipped into the discretionary fund to help the needy. Even Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee must done so in the case of the prime minister's fund."

"Whatever Mulayam Singh Yadav had granted from the fund was placed on record and neither the Allahabad high court nor the CAG had found any fault. It is also in the record of the Vidhan Sabha," Singh claimed.

He alleged that Mayawati was merely acting on the directions of Vajpayee and Advani.

"Mayawati had recently told a goon from Aligarh to eliminate me," Amar Singh alleged adding, "I had written to Deputy Prime Minister Advani about it."

His party would take out cycle rallies between April 19 and May 12 in each district and block headquarters of the state to highlight 'Mayawati's politics of vendetta and blatant corruption', he said.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Motilal Vora dismissed as 'baseless and politically motivated' Mayawati's charge that he had 'misused' the discretionary fund when he was Uttar Pradesh governor. 

"I did not misuse the discretionary fund and the money disbursed to various institutions and individuals through the fund was by cheques and demand drafts which were routed through the district magistrates," Vora, who is the Congress treasurer and in charge of party affairs in UP, told reporters in Delhi.

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