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Mayavati crows at MP catch

Lucknow, Nov. 25: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati today claimed a tit-for-tat victory over Mulayam Singh Yadav after two expelled Samajwadi Party MPs joined her Bahujan Samaj Party.

“The Samajwadi had offered to shelter BSP MLA Jai Prakash Yadav when my government started action against him for his criminal activities. But the two MPs, who together represent 10 Assembly constituencies, have come to us because they believe in our ideology,” Mayavati said.

The BSP leader’s efforts to project the MPs from Khalilabad and Azamgarh constituencies of eastern Uttar Pradesh as people motivated by lofty ideals, however, seemed to falter when journalists referred to their criminal record. Mayavati also fumbled for an explanation when it was pointed out that the two former Samajwadi leaders were allegedly involved in an attempt on her life in the infamous state guest-house case of June 2, 1995. “The charges have not been proved yet,” was all that she managed to say.

Asked if sinners became saints in her company, Mayavati said in colloquial Hindi: “Achche logon ke saath, bure bhi sudhar jaate hain (Even bad people reform in good company).”

Mulayam was the principal target of her tirade. She accused him of trying to incite disaffection among castes by projecting her as anti-Thakur and was happy that “his game is over”.

The chief minister was at pains to clarify that the BSP was not against upper castes. “We have Thakur and Brahmin legislators in our party,” she pointed out. Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh, who led the recent rebellion against her government, was not being targeted because he was a Thakur, Mayavati asserted.

“Action against him is being taken because he is a criminal and my government is committed to upholding the law, irrespective of the caste, creed or influence wielded by the offender,” she said, adding that Singh was arrested on the charge of intimidating another Thakur MLA — the BJP’s Pooran Singh Bundela.

Mayavati then turned her attention to Priyanka Gandhi’s recent visit to Amethi, where she took up the cause of a Dalit whose house had been demolished by Thakur landholders. “The land on which the Dalit had squatted was a Thakur’s land and the administration acted to defend his rights,” Mayavati said in a bid to project herself as a defender of the rights of Thakurs.

The BSP leader claimed it was a Congress conspiracy to create a confrontation between the Dalits and the upper castes. “While discouraging the upper castes to come to us, the Congress also wants to regain its traditional Dalit votebank.”

“Can Priyanka tell the people what her great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi did for the Dalits'” the chief minister asked. According to her, Priyanka’s gesture to get an FIR registered on the complaint of a Dalit was a “political gimmick”.

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