Mayawati's public display of wealth or affection?
Mar 17, 2010 12:03 EDT
corruption | corruption charges | dalits | extravagant celebrations |
garlands | mayawati | party functions | politicians | uttar pradesh
Garlands of flowers have been a standard greeting for politicians in
India. Ceremonies and inaugurations with a political leader as chief
guest mean more prosperity to florists than anyone else.
Most of these garlands get swept aside or badly crushed. But not the
one recently presented to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.
The several metres long garland made up of 1,000 rupee notes is now
garnering scrutiny from Income Tax sleuths of the country.
Mayawati's detractors strongly believe that this wanton display of
wealth by her party subverts the tenets of the Indian Constitution.
What further stokes the anger of critics is the Uttar Pradesh
government's incapacity to look after victims of a tragedy while
continuing to spend large sums of money on towering statues and party
The chief minister had recently drawn flak from several quarters for
being unable to provide compensation to families of as many as 65
people who died in a stampede after a temple gate collapsed in her
Many in the country, including leaders from opposition parties,
suggest that Mayawati should be charged on count of misallocating
funds from the exchequer's coffers.
Mayawati's supporters say her acts are a source of inspiration to
millions of Dalits who have traditionally been forbidden from displays
of well-being and fill them with a sense of pride.
Even if this entire act is supposed to reinforce the party's image
among followers, should an elaborate display of wealth — folded
currency notes strung together — be a means to provide that fillip?
Extravagant celebrations and ostentatious display of wealth have
always caught Mayawati on the wrong foot.
In 2007-08, having paid a tax of 260 million rupees, Mayawati emerged
as the top taxpayer among politicians.
Cases of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income
hound several in the political firmament.
But Mayawati's supporters have dismissed corruption charges by saying
the money came from donations. Two days after the first cash garland,
she was presented another garland of notes in a show of solidarity.
Should there be a law to prevent such displays of wealth, similar to
one that caps spending by a party during election canvassing?
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