Oops, they've done it again.
As the country worries and the Opposition obsesses over Mala-gate, Mayawati's party has gifted her another garland made of money. This one is worth 18 lakhs, say her workers. The proud recipient says the new necklace was made overnight in Lucknow in reply to the Congress' recent criticism of her. (Read: Mayawati's garlands strike a chord with some)
And in a sign, if anybody should still need one, that Hell hath no fury like Mayawati scorned, the BSP has fired spokesperson, Y N Sharma, who confirmed that Monday's garland was made of thousand-rupee notes. Speaking to NDTV, Sharma rued that he was being made a scapegoat.
The defiance is Vintage Mayawati, the technique is all-new. Necklace-of-Notes Part Deux was handed to the Chief Minister at an emergency party meeting called on Wednesday. (Read:
Cornered Mayawati calls emergency meet
Then came this startling nugget: from now on, Mayawati will always be greeted with a garland made of money. "Now via media I would like to tell Opposition parties that if our party president, Behan Kumari Mayawati allows us, if she allows us, then from now on, instead of welcoming her with a garland of flowers, we would like to welcome her with a garland of notes each time," said Naseemuddin Siddiqui, a minister in Mayawati's government.
On the agenda at Wednesday's meeting: how to tackle the Opposition, which has claimed Monday's garland is worth crores. Also discussed: the police investigation into who prompted a swarm of bees to hover around Mayawati while she delivered her speech at Monday's rally. (Read:
Bees at Mayawati rally: Police to investigate
And just in case that message isn't clear to Opposition parties, the party says it has adopted a new slogan."Joh Behenji se tak raayega wqoh mitti mein mil jaayega" (whoever takes on Mayawati will be ruined). Forewarned is forearmed.
Coming up are protests against the Opposition, especially the Congress, which will highlight, among other things, the Chief Minister's anger over the Women's Reservation Bill and the rise in food prices. These rallies by the BSP will begin on March 25.
Political experts say the Garland Part Deux is typical of Mayawati's strategy - to prove to her Dalit voters that she will not surrender to pressure. Since Monday, Mayawati and her supporters have argued that those who've criticized her garland can't stand to see "a Dalit's daughter" enjoying power or success.
The Income Tax department has ordered an inquiry into who funded Monday's garland, and how. (Read:
Income Tax inquiry into Mayawati's garland
) Her party says the money came from its workers and private donors. The Opposition, lead by Digvijay Singh of the Congress, believes the original garland is worth crores. (Read
& Watch: Maya's mala worth Rs 22.5 crore?
Congress accuses Maya of destroying evidence
Incorrect, says Siddiqui, who claims Monday's garland "came from the Lucknow unit (of the BSP) and was made with the contributions of the workers here. We are all a part of it...its cost is 21 lakh rupees." (In
Pics: Lucknow painted blue for Mayawati's mega rally
| Blog: This is why they love Behenji
"If someone has counted the money, they should tell us.... the Opposition is threatened by the success of the rally and the party and that's why they are making these baseless allegations." (Read:
Opposition slams Mayawati