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Maya's birthday cake made of deadly donations

New Delhi, Mon, 29 Dec 2008 M Shamsur Rabb Khan

For someone who fought, who pretended to fight for the poor – Dalits – for scaling the ladder of political success, celebrating birthday with so much of fanfare, and yes, by giving pains to others is the total mockery of serving the have-nots in India. So, anyone who likes to fight for the poor should do nothing but indulge in aggressive, high-pitched advocacy in public, especially the poor aimed at the hurling abuses at the upper caste. Well, a few years of caste bashing will surely yield result: the campaigner will get ticket to the Assembly, and then there will be no stopping. The poor, therefore, in India has become a whipping boy: anyone can show some false sympathy for them, or exhibit that he is doing something for them becomes their messiah. Mayawati is a perfect example of minting money out of working for the Dalit.

Mayawati has become notoriously famous for corruption. And once again she is in the news for a wrong thing. After her convincing victory in Assembly elections last year, Behenji, as she is called – whether lovingly or as a new abuse in UP lexicon – started behaving like undisputed queen in a democratic country. In a fresh political setback, she finds herself at the receiving end because of the gruesome murder of Manoj Kumar Gupta, an Executive Engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD) on the eve of Christmas allegedly by a ruling BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari and his goons. And what was the issue over which the engineer had to lose her life? The family members of the slain engineer have alleged that he was forced by the BSP MLA from Auraiya and his henchmen to contribute in the drive for collection of donations for the birthday of Chief Minister Mayawati on January 15.

According to Shashi Gupta, widow of the executive engineer, some people knocked at their doors on the ground floor of GAIL colony on 24 December at about 2.15 a.m. When her husband opened the door, a few men barged in and started thrashing her husband mercilessly. When she tried to call for help, she was also slapped. Other eyewitnesses and GAIL security men saw the BSP MLA and two of his men dragging a battered and unconscious Gupta out of his house. They bundled him in a vehicle and sped off. No one knows what happened after that except the news that the executive engineer was dead and his body was in left at the Dibiyapur police station.

Can we imagine the sheer audacity of the BSP MLA, who, in his new power avtara, after beating the engineer to death, rang the Dibiyapur police station at around 3.00 am and asked the police to send force at his residence as a person was creating nuisance? But before the police could swing into action, MLA himself reached the police station and dumped an unconscious engineer at the police station. And he directed the police to register a case against the unconscious man for creating nuisance at his house and left. But to the police surprise, the engineer was declared brought dead when the police took him to the hospital.

In the morning, the police informed the Gupta’s family about the incident. The post mortem report of slain engineer revealed that he was brutally assaulted and there were about 32 injury and burn marks on his body. Initially, the police was reluctant in naming the BSP MLA in the FIR but when the issue took political colour, he was arrested and sent to the judicial custody. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress, the opposition had already got the ammunition it was looking for against Mayawati: both declared statewide bandh, their workers staging protests, stopping trains and torching a bus, a police station and damaging a few vehicles.

According to sources, the slain engineer was handing projects worth over Rs 10 crore in Auraiya where he was posted about a year ago. He had told his wife and colleagues that he was considering taking retirement under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), as he was unable to cope up with the ever-increasing demands of bribe by the ruling party leaders of the area. As per Gupta’s family members, Gupta was under tremendous pressure from the ruling party MLA to cough up Rs 50 lakhs for the donation of Behenji’s birthday.

It is an open secret that every BSP MP, MLA, coordinators, office-bearers, leaders and workers are given a target to ‘arrange’ donations on Behenji’s birthday. A controversy in this regard had surfaced in the past also when Rs 100 coupons were printed by the party to raise donations for Mayawati in 2003. The Chief Minister has vehemently denied the charge, but the SP has alleged that “Mayawati was targeting to raise Rs 1000 crore through these donations on her birthday.”

Though the politics in UP is on a hot pot for a while, and though Mayawati promised to take stern action against her own MLA, only time will tell how true her commitments are, given her denial for a CBI probe saying that since the MLA has already been arrested there was no need for it. Though Behenji is trying to distance herself from the controversy surrounding her birthday donations, there is no denying the fact that her birthdays have always been celebrated as ‘arthik sahyog diwas’ in the past as well. In her income tax returns and case also, she has admitted that the wealth she amassed within a short span of time was raised through the donations made by her party workers. She was also in controversy over her palatial house in Badalpur village a year ago. How much money does a Dalit CM want after all?

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