M A I N   N E W S

Maya opens Rs 685-cr park

Noida, October 14
With rose petals, prayers and thousands of people looking on, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Friday inaugurated a Rs 685 crore park dedicated to Dalit leaders here even as the Congress charged her with “wasting public money on grandiose projects”.

With statues of 24 elephants, the symbol of her Bahujan Samaj Party, and of Dalit icons BR Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram and of herself, the 82-acre Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden has been a subject of massive controversy.

Mayawati, in a speech after the inauguration, said the money spent on the Rs 685-crore park came from donations and only "one per cent" of UP Government funds were used. She justified the park on the grounds that it honoured Dalit leaders and questioned the memorials and projects named after members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Unmindful of the criticism that she has received for the park, with some even describing it as a monumental folly, Mayawati touched down in a helicopter at 4.50 pm at the Noida in Film City. As TV cameras captured the moment, a beaming Mayawati went around the premises. Buddhist monks chanted prayers. Unusually, her parents Ramrati and father Prabhu Dass were with her.

Traffic in and around Noida came to a standstill. Police officials said they had a tough time in controlling the surging crowds. Thousands of people had gathered since morning to watch Mayawati inaugurate the park, with many political observers saying that it was a move aimed at the Assembly elections next year.

“The BSP Government has been spending public money on non-essential things when the state has worst indices of infant mortality and education,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said. The litmus test of the BSP government will be in April-May 2012 when the Assembly elections are held, he said.

Another Congress spokesperson, Renuka Chowdary said, “Money spent on the Ambedkar memorial should have been diverted to schools, hospitals, safety for women, farmers. Mayawati's priority is herself. It is not about the Dalit icon, but about missed priorities,” she said. — Agencies





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