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Mayawati threatens scribes for asking about birthday funds

January 11, 2003 02:14 IST

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Thursday criticised journalists who asked her about the alleged fund collection drive for her birthday, which falls on January 15.

She had convened a press conference in Lucknow to deny Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's charges about officially sponsored 'extortion by the chief minister'.

"We are a party of poor and deprived sections of the society and not that of affluent businessmen. In order to make our party financially sound, we have been collecting funds on my birthday as well as that of Bahujan Samaj Party president Kanshi Ram for several years now," she said.

"Earlier, supporters gifted me diamonds, gold and silver, but then I advised them to give cash, because if we were to go and sell the gold or diamond in the market, we would lose a lot of money," she said.

When a scribe asked her how her supporters, who belonged to the "deprived sections of the society", could give diamonds, gold or silver, she said, "They give out of their hard-earned income."

Besides training her guns on Yadav, whom she described as a "frustrated politician", she threatened reporters with dire consequences if they asked offensive questions.

"You may have to pay a heavy price for making such allegations and then you will say that I get angry," she told a journalist who asked her if she was aware that her ministers were openly asking their subordinates to pay for her birthday.

He even named one of the ministers who had asked the head of the soldiers welfare department to buy coupons worth Rs 700,000.

While the journalists decided to boycott the lunch she had hosted for them, the UP Accredited Press Correspondents Committee in the evening held an emergency meeting where a resolution was adopted, condemning the chief minister's behaviour.

Mayawati in turn charged Yadav with 'raising funds to buy over MLAs' to topple her government.

"The Samajwadi Party has set a target of raising Rs 10 billion (Rs 1000 crore) by organising a felicitation function of the party president in Etawah on January 25," she alleged at a news conference in Lucknow.

"The money thus raised is meant for buying over ruling party MLAs to bring down the BSP-BJP-RLD coalition government," Mayawati alleged.

Demanding a CBI probe into the 'undemocratic tactics' being adopted by the SP to pull down a duly elected government, the chief minister alleged that 'industrialists, contractors and senior officials are being lured to contribute to this fund promising benefits once the SP manages to form its government in the state'.

Mayawati said she had come to know through reliable sources that SP leaders are in constant touch with the legislators of the BSP, BJP and its allies.

To support her claim, she presented a photocopy of a Rs 100 coupon with the signatures of the office bearers of the SP's Etawah unit, which she claimed was being used to raise funds.

Yadav has accused the chief minister of coercing traders, officials and contractors to cough up over Rs five billion (Rs 500 crore) for her birthday bash on January 15.

More reports from Uttar Pradesh

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