On 56th birthday, Mayawati keeps it low-key; slams poll panel for
draping of statues
Anant R. Zanane, Updated: January 15, 2012 14:11 IST
Lucknow: In the midst of the heat of the electoral campaign, Uttar
Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is
celebrating her birthday today. She has turned 56. But unlike the
usual spectacle that marks the Dalit czarina's birthday in the state,
celebrations this time around were low-key, courtesy the Election
Commission (EC) which seems to have played party-pooper of sorts.
Hence, the ubiquitous sight of Mayawati dressed in her trademark pink
salwar-kameez was there. But there was none of the leader, flanked by
her partymen and bureaucrats, cutting a massive cake. Instead, Behenji
released a book of her memoirs, aptly called the "Blue Book" - in sync
with all things blue that symbolises her party. She also announced
that her birthday would be a small affair, involving her family only,
acceding to the limitations set out by the poll panel.
The modest celebration was there for all to see. The state capital,
Lucknow, which in the past has been awash with blue to usher in her
birth anniversary, bears a barren look.
In the poll season, the Election Commission has ensured that the
extravaganza, that has marked Behenji's birthday in the last four
years and has been much-criticised, has been done away with.
"We will be watching the expenses," said Umesh Sinha, Chief Electoral
Officer of Uttar Pradesh.
The birthday dampener has been preceded by the Election Commission's
order earlier this month asking for draping of the statues of the
Chief Minister as also her party's symbol, the elephant, across the
state. The controversial directive was put forth as a move to ensure a
level-playing field to all political parties ahead of the assembly
But Mayawati today cried foul, alleging that the poll panel's order
was "one-sided" and "anti-Dalit". "The Election Commission made a
one-sided decision to cover statues of elephants and those of mine
installed to honour the will of Kanshiram, without hearing my party."
With elections round the corner, the Dalit agenda clearly dominated
her speech at the party headquarters. "Centre and Opposition are
insulting Kanshiram; Dalits will not forgive them", she said.
She also cited the example of a park in Chandigarh erected by the
Congress that carries a 45-feet-high hand - the party's symbol.
Calling upon the poll panel to cover such structures of the Congress
in other states, she said, "If the CEC is not just, BSP will call it
anti-Dalit, under Congress pressure."
Putting up a brave face, she also said that the statue-screening
incident had saved the party crores by giving it huge publicity. "CEC,
other parties have publicised BSP for free, I thank them."
With little to cheer about on her birthday, Mayawati would be truly
hoping for a win in the upcoming elections next month. A wish she has
already expressed to the electorate, something she reiterated again
today- UP as her birthday gift.
With corruption, incumbency and a resurgent opposition seriously
threatening her chances, victory in the polls would truly be a sweet
surprise, a fitting belated birthday gift.
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