With her sight firmly set on garnering the Muslim vote, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Saturday kick-started her party's poll campaign.
She launched a frontal attack on her arch rival, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, and left no stone unturned to woo the state's 17 per cent Muslim electorate.
"Mulayam's Samajwadi Party and my other political rivals were trying to misguide Muslims by labeling me and my party as some kind of anti-Muslim force; but let me tell you that if that was true, I would not have fielded as many as 61 Muslims in the assembly poll fray this time," she said.
Accusing Mulayam of misleading Muslims, she claimed, "I also gave more ministerial berths to Muslims than Mulayam ever did in any of his regimes."
Flaying the chief minister for 'amassing huge wealth by unlawful means', she said, "Mulayam will have to pay for all his wrongs and misdeeds once our party comes to power.
"I have definite knowledge that Mulayam was trying to siphon away all his ill-gotten wealth to foreign countries, but once I come to power, I will not let him succeed in his design."
Starting her day with the first rally in Auraiya, adjoining Mulayam's home-district Etawah, she flew down to Kanpur in a helicopter to address the second rally in the industrial hub.
Both rallies drew impressive crowds, which applauded her each time she swore to defeat her rivals and ride on to power in the country's most populous state, where a seven-phase election has been scheduled between April 7 and May 8.
As if to give her clarification about her decision to give away the lion's share of seats to upper caste nominees of her party, which is essentially a Dalit outfit, Mayawati said, "There is nothing wrong with this decision about giving more tickets to members of the upper castes; this has been done in the larger interest of the party."
Referring to her party's much-touted slogan, 'Jitni jiski sankhya bhari, utni uski bhaagedaar,' she said, "Well, this has now changed to "Jitni kiski tayyari, utni uski bhaagedaari".
She went on to add: "And I found that these upper castes were better prepared to fight the battle of votes, but we will insure that the larger good of Dalits is not ignored at any cost."
Displaying the traits of a schoolteacher (that's how she began her career), she also made it a point to guide her supporters how to go about the voting. "Exercising you franchise should be your top priority on the voting day; you may give up all your other routines and do not hesitate to even skip your meals, but do make it a point to rise early and vote before someone else takes advantage of your slackness and votes on your behalf," she told the crowds.
Mayawati, who has been chief minister three times in the past with the BJP's support, proposes to undertake whirlwind tour of different places in the western parts of the state over the next five days.