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Mayawati defends 'cash culture' on her B'day

New Delhi, Tue, 15 Jan 2008 Vikash Ranjan

“Make January 15 as a big ‘Mayawati-BSP’ show at the state-level,” said Mayawati to party leaders on her 52nd lavish birthday.

Elaborate arrangements have been made in public places and parks decorated sumptuously in the state capital associated with the party ideologues on the occasion of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s opulent birthday.

How the occasion has been celebrating so lavishly and on a grand scale comes out with the scene of streets and roads flooded with blue buntings and party flags. However, earlier Mayawati had asked the people to observe the day simply.

Any people who want to present gift to Mayawati, give it in cash because she doesn’t want gift on her birthday, she wants cash.

For the purpose of cash collection coupons with a formal demand for cash are already out in circulation among BSP workers.

The coupons are printed in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 100, carrying the BSP chief's signature and the message: 'The Bahujan Samaj Party central unit has decided to observe my birthday on January 15 as 'Financial Support Day'. Kindly make your contributions on this occasion.'

As per the party sources Mayawati has fixed a target of Rs 8 crore from Uttar Pradesh.

All this cash collection activity has been making under the clout of "pro-poor" glimpse to the celebrations, the BSP supreme has instructed her party men to raise contributions in cash and kind, which will be then distributed to the needy.

But the 52nd birthday has marked a significant departure from past practice, when state leaders assembled in Delhi for a meeting and a cultural evening, this time Mayawati has told leaders to stay put in their regions to make January 15 a big "Mayawati-BSP" show at the state-level.

Till 2007, the celebrations were held in Lucknow in the morning and then the caravan moved onto Delhi.

Last year the Mayawati had faced severe criticism on the cash-collection culture, but she remained unfazed.

She has made 'charity' the centrepiece of celebrations as on birth anniversaries of 'legends'. But she has instructed party men to extend monetary and material support to widows, handicapped, and poor and needy people.

The day is also observed as 'Arthik Sahyog Diwas' when MPs and MLAs give the "party fund" where "targets" are fixed in advance. Although the Congress has advised Mayawati minding on Uttar Pradesh, but BSP chief Mayawati’s birthday celebration are set to be a national bash with a definite ring of iconisation and the political upgradation of her birthday from a 'state' to a 'national' event runs much deeper.

The iconisation started with Mayawati calling herself ‘living goddess’ of dalits and her statues installed in ‘Prerna Kendra’ in Lucknow. Moreover the alterations in party representation from ‘Kanshi Ram era’ to ‘Maya Yug’ also suggest the iconisation theme.

"There is nothing shady about the whole thing. Behenji has decided to make a public announcement of the total amount she receives as gift on her birthday." Said Barkhu Ram Verma, BSP leader and former UP assembly speaker in defence of the practice.
"This is nothing new, and let me tell you that all the gift money is used for the benefit and growth of the party," he added.

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