| Mayavati with Kanshi Ram in New Delhi on Saturday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, Jan. 15: Elephants, horses and a carpet of flowers.
Relieved Bahujan Samaj Party workers celebrated their leader's 48th birthday in style, a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation decided to drop charges against Mayavati in the Taj corridor scam.
At the end of the day ' and after three functions ' the BSP was richer by about Rs 10 crore.
But unlike last year, when Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, CPM leader H.S. Surjeet and the BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made it to her residence with flowers, there were no heavyweight visits this time.
Sonia is grappling with nominations in three poll-bound states while Surjeet is too ill to attend.
However, the CBI's decision to file a closure report in the case is being interpreted as the Congress' desire to reach out to Mayavati for an alliance against the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.
BSP workers and legislators opened their palms as they celebrated 'arthik sahyog divas' (financial assistance day). Each of the 26 MPs contributed Rs 2 lakh, while the 68 MLAs gave Rs 1 lakh each. The 402 Assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh were to cough up Rs 2 lakh each. Across the country, workers and sympathisers bought coupons of Rs 50, 100, 500 and 1,000.
The first function at 9 in the morning was at her Humayun Road residence. Mayavati, in a saffron silk suit, cut the cake. The second was at 11 at Sardar Patel Marg, where a 'BSP bhavan' is being built. The third was at 6.30, at Gurdwara Rakabganj Road, the party's Delhi unit office.
Mayavati lashed out at the 'Manuwadis' and the BJP for conspiring against her and said she joined politics to uplift the bahujan samaj. 'I decided to remain unmarried because we all know that emotional bonds with one's family make a person weak and compromising. The familial bonds sometimes compel people to indulge in corruption and nepotism,' she said, in a dig at the 'chacha, bhateeja' and 'pariwarwaad' culture of Indian politics.
An ailing Kanshi Ram, the party's founder and Mayavati's mentor, was wheeled into her residence to send out the message that she was not holding him captive, as alleged by his mother and brother. Mayavati offered him a piece of cake. When Kanshi Ram broke into sobs, Mayavati wiped the tears with her handkerchief. Two sisters of Kanshi Ram were also present. Mayavati said the allegation that she had kept him in captivity 'was part of the conspiracy of the Manuwadi forces'.
At the second function, Mayavati, in a pink suit, laid the foundation stone of the proposed BSP bhavan on a half-acre plot in posh Sardar Patel Marg. Horses, elephants (the BSP symbol) and party workers lined the street. Women showered rose petals as she walked on a carpet of flowers to the shamiana.
Mayavati slammed the BJP for implicating her in the Taj scam.
'The BJP tried to malign my image by spreading rumours that I had bought land in Delhi's posh area in my own name and money from the Taj corridor scam had been used for the purpose,' she said. The land, she added, has been bought in the name of the party.