New Delhi: A cable titled "Portrait of a Lady" sent by the US Embassy in Delhi refers to Mayawati's "eccentric paranoia" and obsession with becoming Prime Minister.
Made available by WikiLeaks, the cable is dated October 2008 and is sent by the Political Consul at the US Embassy in Delhi. It focuses on the Americans' attempts to evaluate the political atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh. It says political officers travelled to three cities in UP in October 2008. The conclusions are less than flattering for the Chief Minister.
The cable says that a range of "business, political, academic and media contacts generally agreed that Chief Minister Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have done little to promote development since her May 2007 election. According to several journalists, the law and order situation in UP has improved only in that Mayawati has centralized corruption in her own hands."
The cable estimates that Mayawati "has become a virtual paranoid dictator replete with food tasters and a security entourage to rival a head of state" -presumably, this assessment was based on the informal interviews conducted by the Americans in Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi.
"Mayawati is obsessed with becoming Prime Minister and the BSP will spend huge sums in next year's national polls. With all signs pointing to another coalition government in Delhi, Mayawati could be a powerbroker and perhaps even a king (or queen) maker," the cable predicts.
It also says that the different groups who shared their opinion of Mayawati with the Americans must deal with "Mayawati's vice-like grip on all levers of power. All decisions must run through Mayawati or her very small coterie of advisors."
The cable says, "One Lucknow journalist related a story in which a State Minister was forced to do sit-ups in front of her as penance for not first asking permission to call on UP's governor. Mayawati forced a civil servant to resign when she learned his daughter had joined the Congress Party in Delhi."
The Americans were informed that the security in UP had improved with Mayawati's governance but because "Mayawati has institutionalized corruption with competitive fealty payments to her replacing shootouts." The cable also says that Mayawati's revenue sources include "payoffs and kickbacks from almost every interaction that large businesses have with the state government, standard practices in UP."
A colourful descriptor of Mayawati's "Eccentric Paranoia" says "When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand. According to Lucknow journalists, she employs nine cooks (two to cook, the others to watch over them) and two food tasters.
She fears assassination and demanded from the central government the highest level of protection available. In addition to this outsized security apparatus, she constructed a private road from her residence to her office, which is cleaned immediately after her multiple vehicle convoy reaches its destination."
There's also an ominous prediction for Mayawati in the cable. "India has seen such political personalities before, and never failed to deal with them eventually at the ballot box." (Read the entire cable here)