Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Ms. Mayawati [ Images ] celebrated her 54th birthday on Friday, but without the trademark pomp, splendour and ostentatious celebrations. Instead, the CM surprised many by announcing welfare programmes for the poor and development schemes worth over Rs 7,300 crore for the state.
Her earlier birthdays were celebrated as arthik sahyog diwas (fund raising day) when her partymen allegedly indulged in blatant extortion. Last year, Public Works Department engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta was allegedly murdered by BSP Member of Legislative Assembly Shekhar Tiwari, when the engineer refused to ‘donate’ money for Mayawati’s birthday celebrations. All BSP MLAs had reportedly been asked to raise Rs 50 lakh for their supremo’s birthday.
This year, Mayawati decided to celebrate her birthday as Jan-kalyankari diwas (people’s welfare day).
A large part of the state capital donned a blue hue — the colour of the BSP. Each of the memorials and statues erected in different parts of the city were laden with blue lights, transforming the entire skyline of the city. Even the CM’s official bungalow, renovated with pink Dholpur stone, was covered with blue lights.
Other than a birthday song-dance performance by children from a well-known Lucknow [ Images ] school, the cultural extravaganza that used to mark Mayawati’s earlier birthdays was pointedly missing this time.
The CM unveiled 265 new constructions with the click of a single button today.
“These include the inauguration of new bridges, construction of new roads, installation of new ambitious power projects, drinking water and sanitation schemes and a host of special programmes launched for the welfare of the poor, the infirm and the women,” the chief minister told the audience in a jam-packed hall within the premises of the CM’s residence.
“These welfare programmes, schemes and development projects are worth over Rs 7,300 crores,” she said.
Prominent among these schemes is a monthly pension scheme for the poor, entitling them to a regular subsistence dole of Rs 300 per month, which would entail a financial burden of Rs 1,100 crore on the state.
“We brought this scheme to include the many poor people who could not be covered under the Below Poverty Line list simply because of the ceiling imposed by the Union government on the number of such beneficiaries,” she said.
“After the Centre’s continued silence to our repeated requests to lift the ceiling, we decided to mobilise our own funds to increase the ambit of BPL beneficiaries. We propose to annually cover approximately 30 lakh poor people, who despite living below the poverty line, do not posses BPL cards,” Mayawati said.
Her other populist announcements include the release of 25 mentally handicapped prisoners and under-trials, besides the proposed release of 26,335 under-trials, who have already completed 50 per cent of the jail term to which they could be sentenced to for their respective crimes.
While she distributed a number of tri-cycles to physically challenged persons, she also gave away cheques to a few new BPL beneficiaries, to mark the launching of her monthly dole scheme.