The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Hounded’ Mayavati in honour plea

Jaipur, Sept. 14: Stepping on a public platform for the first time since her ouster in Uttar Pradesh, Mayavati dared the BJP to harass her to cheers from a massive crowd, that would have sent alarm bells ringing in the ruling Congress.

“When I took the decision (of quitting the chief ministership), I knew the BJP-led government would use every way to harass me. But I am not scared. I would not compromise on my principles even if I am put in jail,” she told over 25,000 party supporters, without naming the CBI case on the Taj heritage corridor in which she has been questioned.

She brought the crowd to its feet, declaring: “BJP ne mujhe apne rang mein rangne ki koshish ki, dabav dala. Par swabhiman ko jab thhes lagi, to kursi chod di (the BJP tried to pressure me to follow their brand of politics, but I preferred to quit to protect the self-respect and honour of the downtrodden).”

“Power comes and goes, but honour does not,” she said to applause. But she emphasised the need to grab political power, or at least win a substantial number of seats to be able to dictate terms in government formation. “The secret of getting rid of all the ills and social discriminations you are facing lies in grabbing the master key of political power,” she said, quoting B.R. Ambedkar.

Even before forming the coalition with the BJP, Mayavati said she had clearly told the BJP leadership about their differences on the approach and attitude towards Muslims. That was why, she claimed, Uttar Pradesh did not witness a single riot during her tenure.

She said courts should examine the archaeological report that claims to have found evidence of a temple beneath the ground on which the Babri Masjid stood.

“We will honour the court verdict and nothing else,” she declared, adding that the BSP would oppose tooth-and-nail any attempt to construct a temple before a verdict. “We will not allow anybody to hurt the feelings of the Muslims,” she said.

Accusing a section within the BJP of conspiring to bring down her government, she said the same group had installed Mulayam Singh Yadav. She alleged that a jungle raj had begun with the Samajwadi Party coming to power as was evident from the release of anti-socials like Raja Bhaiyya.

Taking up the hottest topic in Rajasthan politics at the moment — quotas for the poor among the upper castes, she said she supported the demand, but asserted that the new quota should be a separate one and not carved out from that earmarked for the backward classes.

She suggested a 15 per cent quota for the upper caste poor in keeping with their share in the population.

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