Mayawati’s public display of wealth or affection?

March 17, 2010

MayawatiGarlands 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 functions.

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 state.

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. But not when it comes to paying tax.

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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Why make a law that can’t be implemented and crowd the statute book? The law limiting spending is also observed in breach.

Just playing devil’s advocate but isn’t Mayawati’s display of wealth like Gandhi’s display of ostentatious poverty?

(Sarojini Naidu is supposed to have said that the Congress spent lots of money to keep Gandhi poor.)

Both are about political symbolism.

And say how is she corrupt if she paid the highest income tax? Isn’t it corruption supposed to be the other way round?

And what about Rahul Gandhi visiting dalit homes?

As far as compensation for stampede victims is concerned why is no one asking for it from the god-man who organised the function. He should be paying up rather than the government.

Mayawati’s priorities are pretty lopsided but so is criticism from other political parties.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

This is again the age-old Indian habit of unbashed flattery taken to a new ridiculous height. Indian politicians have flattery etched in their DNA and have developed it into a fine art to please their political bosses. I have dealt on this subject in my blog: 6/the-fine-art-of-flattery/

Posted by nara | Report as abusive

Ostentatious display of wealth, fanfare and power – Mayawati has always indulged in such activities – what with the enormous amounts of money spent on her idols..the cash garlands are yet other episode of the same.

All we can do is vent out our anger in public forums, write about it, talk about it but do nothing to stop it – All our ministers indulge in money laundering – the difference is they do it behind closed doors..Behenji does it ON-Your-Face ..!!

Posted by FlyingFish10 | Report as abusive

vulgar display of affection for their leader by her supporters or a very convenient way to convert her black money only income tax authorities can confirm,however it will take very long time as in other cases of disprotionate income filed against other leaders.

Posted by dsudhir | Report as abusive

She is no more dalit ki beti, but daulat ki beti…

Posted by jains | Report as abusive

Being a native of Lucknow for so many years, I cannot ignore this yet another case of meglomania exhibited by Mayawati. The lady in pink is now lady in pink notes.

I keep shuttling between Lucknow and DelhiTalking about the garland, I was told by our domestic help that her humungous snake like garland attracted the attention of the crowd at Ramabai Ambedkar maidan as they could not make out from a distance that it was made of currency notes. Some were heard discussing about the “shining garland” and concluded that it could be made of some “imported flowers”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Posted by Lucknownawab | Report as abusive

This is just one of numerous acts of Mayawati’s super ego which feeds on every trivial and cliche act of being percieved as powerful and popular. The sad part is people of extremely poor belt are actually happy about how a “dalit” is enjoying while all this time only rich people were supposed to do this.

In India, we have a very strong subconscious bounding personality. We live our lives through our leaders. That’s how those poor people are happy in a way that a poor is now doing things which even richest of people can’t dream of.

Posted by AbhinavSisodia | Report as abusive

Discussing these issues on blog doesn’t atcually matter. mayawati’s voters don’t read or write.
for them, a caste-tag and a 100 rupees note a day ahead of polling is sufficient enough to select the ELEPHANT.

Unless people change, leaders like mayawati will cotinue to rule…

Posted by kaustubhk | Report as abusive

mayawati is setting up statues of hers across U.P. but what abt the statues of nehru-gandhi family members? even newly built sea link is mumbai is now Rajiv Gandhi Setu…

Posted by kaustubhk | Report as abusive

Politicians like Mayawati should realise that in a democracy, it is imperative to keep your supporters happy or atleast satisfied. And for all practical purpose, we cannot assume that since taking charge of the state, she has been able to transform the lives of millions of poor Dalits to such a great extent and that now each one of them has a roof over his head and all the basic necessities of life. All they have for now is expectations that their ‘Behenji’ will sooner or later provide a respite from all their miseries.

So the currency-note garlands may for the time being make her supporter feel that she is acquiring the necessary ammunition to fight against their miseries. However if Ms Mayawati fails to deliver on these expectations the backlash from the Dalit voters will be as unprecedented as the garland. India’s political history is full of instances where the once formidable regional satraps were reduced to nothing once the support waned. The names of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav can be taken as recent examples, though both are trying to claw their way back among their traditional supporters. Hope Mayawati takes the cue from Mulayam’s daughter-in-law’s utterly unexpected massive defeat from his pocket-borough, Firozabad, about the extent of the power of political backlash and amends her brazen behaviour.

Posted by Anuambrish | Report as abusive

Ok, so Mayawati’s vulgar display of wealth was another low in politics. Then came, the further low when bees were declared as WMDs ( weapons of mass destruction) launched by opposition parties. And now comes the nadir of all – comparing Mayawati’s squandering away money to Mahatama Gandhi’s adherence to frugality and self-restraint from splurge. Mr Tripathi, with your tacit approval and acceptance of Mayawati’s display of wealth, you are not being a devil’s advocate but an ignorant Dalit. Even if Sarojini Naidu said so, and being poor can endear you to voters, all independent candidates with no wealth and might should go on to win their elections. So, by that logic ewe should have 1220 Gandhis?

And, since when did the Congress position itself a party for the rich and mighty – despite being the most corrupt party India has ever had. Right from pre-emergency days, its motto was loud and clear to garner support from poor people. Their famous slogans Garibi Hatao and Congress ka Haath, Aam Aadmi ke saath are a testimony to that. So how was Gandhi different from rest of the party? And how can party’s spending make an individual person poor? And what was Nehru doing when he spent thousands of money in importing pipes and cigarettes?

Mr Tripathi, you really need to brush up your facts.

Posted by Oldscribe | Report as abusive

As far as the law is concerned, I don’t think any body should have any issue if somebody is flaunting his/her (earned and tax paid) money, but Behan Ji emerged as Daliton ki GARIB beti, and now she can’t even accepts the simple garlands of flowers, she has turned her annual birthdays into an opportunity to collect cash in the name of party fund.
Who will not get anguished with this un-necessary extravaganza for her charms in wearing currency notes and building her statues all over the state?

Posted by Nishu_Enjay | Report as abusive

well, above all nothing will going to happen to anybody. All have forget,what happen in Lok Sabha. We are not so strong in saying our words. Govt and politic Political word do what ever they want.

Just accept my all friend that, we are in dead world, we can’t do anything. Just we talk with our self and sleep at night. And morning same job life…

Posted by preetgunjan | Report as abusive

ys, so bhenji showed what is she is upto now as we can see there not so much development in UP’s villages so by wearing those garlands of notes showing as the party fund clearly shows mayawati’s boastnes about herself and her party

Posted by karan.p | Report as abusive