Selection of candidates was based on factors like clean image and commitment to BSP's mission, claimed the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. Sharat Pradhan reports from Lucknow.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on Sunday surprised everyone by releasing her list of 403 candidates for the ensuing Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections with more upper castes and OBCs than Dalits, whose cause the party primarily proclaimed to champion.
The list clearly indicates that Mayawati was out to once again try out her social engineering that had propelled her to power entirely on the strength of her own party in 2007, when BSP party bagged 213 seats in the 403member state assembly.
Significantly, there is a substantial number of minorities in the list, whose break-up she herself gave at her 56th birthday celebration at the state BSP headquarters in Lucknow.
While claiming that unlike her political rivals she meant business by declaring her party' entire list at one go, Mayawati appealed to party workers to ensure the return of BSP to power as their "birthday gift" to her.
"My list of candidates has 117 upper castes with as many as 74 Brahmins. Besides, there are 113 OBCs, 88 scheduled castes and 85 Muslims," Mayawati declared, while highlighting how she had taken care to give due representation to all castes.
Mayawati claimed that during her selection of candidates she laid emphasis on factors like "clean image and their commitment to the BSP mission as well as their devotion to their respective areas of operation."
Meanwhile, even as the birthday remained a low-key affair and the usual fanfare was missing, the party office remained well decorated and brightly lit up for the occasion.
Not only was the 18-feet tall blue gates of the party adored with thick marigold garlands hanging from the top, a red carpet was also laid out for the chief minister's motorcade. A replica of huge elephant tusks flanked the passage while the hall inside was bedecked in gladioli, marigold and red roses.
The one kilometer stretch from her official residence to the party office on the prime and plush Mahatma Gandhi Marg was washed well before her motorcade drove in. A huge security ring surrounded the premises, developed on a sprawling 1,10,000 sq feet plot of land created after the demolition of two bungalows earmarked for ministers.
Even as Mayawati avoided cutting her birthday cake before the media, cake slices were served lavishly by well-turned-out waiters from Taj Vivanta, which had laid a vast spread for a grand lunch that followed.
However, what could not be missed were Mayawati's extravagantly displayed solitaires and diamonds and her favourite pink brocade shalwar-suit that she makes it a point to wear at all her birthdays.