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Austerity be damned, Maya's birthday to be lavish affair (UP Newsletter)

By Mohit Dubey, Lucknow, Jan 11 : In the age of new-found austerity, politicians across the country are doing everything up their sleeves to ensure that they are seen as no less humble than AAP leaders; not BSP president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati.


Known for her penchant for extravagance and glitz, her fall from grace in Uttar Pradesh has seemingly not dimmed her tastes. And so, as her party gears up for a massive show of strength in Lucknow Jan 15, BSP organisers have been told to open up their purses to make the event a do to remember.

The rally, her first since she lost power 2012 to the Samajwadi Party, is being "organised in such a manner that the base vote bank of the party is reassured that Behenji is still in command", a BSP source said.

A senior party functionary told IANS that while the city will be plastered with hoardings, banners and posters of the rally to be held at the Ramabai Ambedkar Sthal in Aashiana, thousands of square feet will have a tent to ensure that visitors are not hit by the vagaries of nature.

Lucknow is facing inclement weather including off and on rains.

The adjoining Smriti Upvan park is being decked up for the night stay of party workers who are likely to trickle in from Monday.

All party legislators have been asked to ensure that at least 10,000 people come from their constituencies, party leaders say. Mayawati has asked the organisers to ensure the "best" for the estimated six lakh plus people expected in Lucknow.

With the Lok Sabha polls on her mind, special focus is being paid to ferry supporters from Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

A lavish spread of cuisine including khaman dhokla, khandvi, sarson ka saag, makke di roti, dosa and uttapam as well as choorma, baati chokha and non-vegetarian fare will be served by the best in the industry.

"Behenji is very caring about the cadres and has never been a miser when it comes to her party workers and cadres," says a close aide. To ensure that she is heard loud and clear, a hi-tech public address system is also being installed.

The party has booked 23 trains from all over the country to transport party activists to Lucknow. The Government Railway Police (GRP) has sought the services of 10 companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary for the event and to handle the influx of the rallyists.

GRP Inspector S.P. Sonkar said the requisition for additional forces for Jan 15 had been made.

Twelve people returning from a BSP rally were killed in a stampede in 2002 at the Charbagh railway station here.

The Jan 15 rally coincides with Mayawati's 57th birthday. All BSP MPs have been asked to 'gift' Rs.5 lakh each to the party kitty. Legislators need to cough up Rs.2 lakh each.

This money, the sources say, would be used by the party to promote Dalit movements.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 11-01-2014)

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