Mayawati sent jet to collect sandals: WikiLeaks

NEW DELHI Mon Sep 5, 2011 10:59pm IST

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati smiles after her birthday celebrations in New Delhi January 15, 2008.  REUTERS/Tanushree Punwani/Files

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati smiles after her birthday celebrations in New Delhi January 15, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Tanushree Punwani/Files

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Mayawati, dubbed the Untouchables’ Queen, once sent a jet to pick up her favourite brand of sandals, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables released by the WikiLeaks website.

Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was described in the cables as "a first-rate egomaniac" who "is obsessed with becoming prime minister".

The 55-year-old Mayawati, who goes only by one name, has built a career on championing the cause of the untouchables, or Dalits, who are among India's poorest and most deprived people.

But she has been criticised for corruption, throwing lavish celebrations and building parks with massive statues of Dalit leaders, including herself.

"When she needed new sandals, a jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand," according to a cable dated Oct. 23, 2008. "She constructed a private road from her residence to her office, which is cleaned immediately after her multiple vehicle convoy reaches its destination."

Mayawati also employed food tasters to guard against poisoning, it said.

According to the same cable, one minister was forced to do sit-ups in front of Mayawati as a punishment for a minor offence, while those wanting to become election candidates for her party had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege.

A spokesperson for Mayawati said in a statement that "such exposes" do not carry any authenticity, but she did not mention WikiLeaks by name.

Supporters of Mayawati, a former teacher, say her acts fill them with a sense of pride and are a source of inspiration to the millions of Dalits who have traditionally been forbidden from displays of well-being.

At her birthday parties, top public figures, including police chiefs and politicians, are often seen feeding her cake. Mayawati kicked up a storm last year for receiving a garland of cash at a political party celebration.

The Congress party has been campaigning aggressively to try and wrest Uttar Pradesh from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), deploying its star campaigners such as party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, to garner support.

Dislodging strong regional parties is seen as key to Congress' ability to push through painful structural economic and political reforms to modernise Asia's third largest economy in the years ahead.

India is awash with stories of corruption that have piled pressure especially on the central coalition and sparked a wave of street protests demanding tougher laws.

(Reporting by Matthias Williams; additional reporting by Alka Pande in Lucknow; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Modi In Japan

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Book Talk

Book Talk

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past  Full Article 

Coal Block Scam

Coal Block Scam

Govt urges Supreme Court to not cancel some 'illegal' coal mines.  Full Article 

U.S. Open

U.S. Open

Djokovic, Murray in quarters clash, Serena advances.  Full Article 

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan Protests

Pakistani protesters clash with police, soldiers secure state TV.  Full Article 

Photo

Iraq Violence

Iraq violence killed at least 1,420 in August - U.N.  Full Article 

Mass Hacking

Mass Hacking

Actress Jennifer Lawrence contacts authorities after nude photos hacked.  Full Article 

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

Poor response to Ebola causing needless deaths – World Bank head.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage