Mayawati inaugurates Dalit memorial

Noida: Under attack over the controversial Rs 685-crore Dalit memorial, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Saturday hit out at Congress saying that it had no right to criticise when it has raised so many memorials for the Nehru-Gandhi family across the Yamuna bank in Delhi.

She also attacked Congress and BJP for "ignoring" dalit icons B R Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram. "In Delhi, central government has constructed various memorials on the western bank of Yamuna to honour people like Nehru and Gandhi, but not a single one has been built for dalit icons like Bhim Rao Ambedkar and founder of BSP Kanshi Ram," Mayawati said.

The chief minister inaugurated a 36-acre park here which houses memorials of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram besides statues of herself and of 20 elephants, the BSP symbol each costing Rs 70 lakh. The construction of the park had come under attack from political parties and conservationists who had approached the Supreme Court alleging destruction of green belt along the Okhla Bird sanctuary. The court initially stayed construction but later lifted it.

Justifying the Rastriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden project, Mayawati said, "We always felt the need to have a memorial dedicated to the icons of Dalit community and this is one such for the benefit of dalits living around the national capital region including western Uttar Pradesh." The sentiments of people from Dalit community were badly hurt due to central government`s attitude of "ignoring" the works of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, she said.

Terming the Park a "source of inspiration" needed to uplift the morale of backward community in the country, Mayawati claimed only one per cent of the state budget was spent for its construction. "Opposition parties have laid obstructions to stop construction of this park. Fake court cases were filed against me for misusing public funds, but I thank the Supreme Court for giving its judgement in our favour," she said.

Mayawati blamed both the UPA and NDA governments for misusing CBI against her by trying to implicate her in false cases of disproportionate assets and scams. "In October 2003, when Kanshi Ram was admitted in a hospital, the NDA government falsely implicated me in disproportionate assets case and CBI raided at my residences," she said.

"Congress president Sonia Gandhi called me at that time and promised a fair justice if her party comes to power, but she has not done anything in last eight years to fulfill its commitment," Mayawati said. "Even the Income Tax department has given me a clean chit but the government is not ending the case and has put it in limbo," she said. The UP chief minister said she had always supported the causes of Dalits and even raised the issue of reservation for dalits, backward muslims and economically backwards in upper caste.

"I have even demanded for reservations in judiciary and private jobs, and also for increasing the quota as the population of dalits has increased," Mayawati said. But all these have been put in cold storage by the Centre, she said. Accusing the Centre of not doing much for the development of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said central government is putting hindrances when the state begins development projects like Jevar airport, Yamuna Expressway with private participation.

She said that her government has started land reforms and development work. Terming "corruption and criminals in politics" as heritage from the past governments, Mayawati said that her government has started to take action against those involved and "some of the ministers had to lose their post." Extending support to the anti-corruption movements by Anna Hazare and Ramdev, she said, "We extend all support to those who are against corruption".