Sharat Pradhan in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
Launching her party's election campaign in a poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Wednesday trained her guns more pointedly towards the Congress party, blaming it for anything and everything that she could not deliver to the masses during her five years rule over India s most populous state. Sharat Pradhan reports.
Even as she did not spare the Samajwadi Party or the Bharatiya Janata Party from her attacks, it was the Congress that remained on her key target throughout the 50-minute long speech that she read out from a printed text before an overwhelming crowd in Sitapur, about 85 km from Lucknow.
She took the opportunity to also take on the election commission for the diktat on draping of all her statues as well as those of the stone elephants installed by her in the multi-billion memorials and parks in Lucknow and in Noida.
"I know you all are angered on account of the forced covering of the elephants and statues put up in the memorials and parks dedicated to various dalit icons; I would advise you to vent your anger by making it a point to turn out in huge numbers on the voting day and to press the button against the elephant," she told the massive crowd which thronged every nook and corner of the sprawling Government Intermediate College grounds in Sitapur.
In an unusual appeal to her audience, she added, "Come what may -- storm, rain or chill, you must not miss out on exercising your voting right; remember your vote is very precious and you must protect it like you would protect the honour of your daughters and sisters."
While it was apparently a coincidence that Congress star campaigner Rahul Gandhi was also in Sitapur on Tuesday, addressing a series of rallies in this part of the state, Mayawati did not miss the opportunity to run him down to the core.
'The Congress is anti-Dalit'
Revelling over the fact that her rally drew at least five times the crowd that her bete noire Rahul had pulled, she said, "Don't get carried away by the lip service of different opposition parties and their manifestos, but be particularly wary of the Congress party , because it has very big stakes but a very poor support base."
She added, "Remember of Congress were to form a government in UP, then every small trader will be finished as Congress is just waiting to open FDI in retail and hand over all consumer trade to multi-nationals ."
In an obvious reference to Rahul, she remarked, "A top Congress leader has been repeatedly lamenting over the fact that a lot of people from UP go begging for jobs in far off places, but I would like to ask him what his party did to prevent this migration during the 40 years that Congress ruled over this state."
Terming the Congress as grossly 'anti-dalit', Mayawati charged the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of personally targeting her as well as her government through misuse of institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Citing the current probe into what is known as the Rs 5,000-crore National Rural Health Mission scandal, which also involves murder of three senior health officials, Mayawati said, "The manner in which the probe is being carried out clearly reflects the anti-dalit mindset of the Congress party which was clearly influencing the CBI and CAG to target me."
She said, "The Congress cannot tolerate the daughter of a Dalit as chief minister and that was why all its effort was directed towards running me down."
She added, "And that was the reason why CBI was going slow on huge scams involving bungling of lakhs of crores by Central ministers while my government was being hounded in the NRHM case."
'With SP, goondas will once again rule'
The inimitable leader of what was better known as the country's top Dalit party further sought to clarify, "If there has been any irregularity in NRHM in UP, then officials of the Central government are as much responsible for it as those of the state government; after all, monitoring teams from the Central government have been visiting the state to keep a tab on every aspect of the centrally funded program."
She wondered why the CBI had not questioned a single Central government official in that connection, while UP officials were being harassed.
"In fact, I personally went to the extent of taking the resignation of two of my ministers who were overseeing the NRHM work", she pointed out.
Apart from warning the surging audience against the Congress, Mayawati also made it a point to alert them against the other two key political players in the current electoral fray -- Samajwadi Party and the BJP.
"If SP were to come to power in UP, then it will be throwing the state back into the hands of criminals and outlaws; everyone including traders, women , the poor and downtrodden will have to face the music as goondas will once again rule the roost," she said.
"And in case the BJP gets a chance to form a government, it will be back to the days of communalism and feudalism; sure enough the atmosphere will become suffocating for all and sundry," she added.