March 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Mayawati justifies birthday bash
New Delhi, March 11
Using the caste card to counter the criticism, she said “there was no criticism when upper caste parties have their meetings in five-star hotels or when upper caste women wore diamonds, but when a “Dalit ki beti” does such a thing, it draws all-round condemnation.
Addressing a press conference here, Ms Mayawati said the money (Rs 76 lakh) for the birthday celebrations was taken from the state’s Contingency Fund for the “Swabhimaan Divas”.
She said the expenditure was made “just like earlier governments had done to celebrate Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday as Bal Divas, Chaudhury Charan Singh’s as Kisan Divas and S Radhakrishnan’s as Shikshak Divas.”
Ms Mayawati charged the Opposition with raking up the issue of her birthday bash of January 15 now to “hide its own weaknesses” and said political parties and the media were indulging in “false propaganda without thinking”.
Attributing this to “casteist mindsets”, she said “I want to ask when parties celebrated Bal Divas and Kisan Divas, why no one had any problem? Now when the birthday of a “Dalit ki beti” was celebrated as “Swabhimaan Divas” to highlight development works for Dalits, why is there so much talk about it?”
“If this is not the thinking of casteist mindset, then what is it? I will give a befitting reply when the time comes,” she said.
Making it clear that her birthday affair was a government show, Ms Mayawati said the money was taken out from the contingency fund of the government and not from the discretionary fund as was being publicised. The unforseen expenditure was usually met from this fund only and was later passed by the state Assembly, she said.
She also came down heavily on a section of media spreading stories about her birthday bash, saying this section of press belonged to “Manuvadis”.
She, however, refused to comment on the recent video tape controversy.
Ms Mayawati was here to attend a meeting of the Planning Commission.
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