Monday, January 16, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Mayawati paranoid about her own safety

Atul Chandra Lucknow, January 15, 2012 | UPDATED 15:41 IST
Mayawati paranoid about her own safety
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati
Bureaucrats say Mayawati's fears are so deep seated she seldom goes to
her office.

When Mayawati moved to her tony Mall Avenue address in Lucknow as CM
in 2007, her neighbours had no clue about what was in store for them.

Within a year of assuming office, the fourth-time CM of UP began
showing signs of paranoia. To begin with, the cane commissioner's
office located next to her residence was considered too unsafe to
remain where it was. In 2008, the two-storied building was demolished
and made a part of her residence.

The mere demolition of the office and annexation of its land was not
enough to quell Mayawati's fears. To make it impregnable, an 18-foot
high wall was built around the sprawling bungalow, with snipers at
vantage points.

The tight security at the entrance was also upgraded. A hi-tech
security apparatus with computerised scanners for vehicles and
automatic gates was installed, making Mayawati one of India's highly
protected politicians.

After the demolition of the cane commissioner's office, panic gripped
the residents living in multi-storied buildings in Mall Avenue as
rumours spread that they were all a security hazard.

A businessman living close to Mayawati's residence spent sleepless
nights fearing he would be forced to part with his property. Access to
his house and a restaurant in the vicinity was made difficult by the
security personnel guarding the CM's bungalow. The free movement of
vehicles and pedestrians in that lane came to be restricted.

Whether it was because of fear or greed for prime property, Mayawati's
rakhi brother Lalji Tandon, of the BJP, was also politely asked to
vacate his bungalow opposite her's. It was promptly converted into a
BSP office, along with the bungalow of a minister from her government.

Security measures were simultaneously put in place around her 5,
Kalidas Marg, office-cum-residence. Entry to the road was restricted
for even high court judges and other politicians living nearby.

Despite having probably the biggest fleet of bulletproof vehicles in
Lucknow and Noida, Mayawati seldom goes to her office in the
secretariat annexe. Some bureaucrats said her fears are so deep seated
that she does not want to take chances, even if it means absence from

For the first time in UP, Navneet Sehgal, an IAS officer in the CM's
secretariat, was given the charge of her security. Janata durbars,
which were held to help people meet her and air grievances during her
previous tenures, were discontinued. There was thus no direct
interaction between the CM and public. Only a select few officers and
politicians are allowed access to her.

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