Mayawati’s one year of demolitions and constructions

May 14th, 2008 - 3:25 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party
By Sharat Pradhan
Lucknow, May 14 (IANS) It has been a year of demolitions and constructions in the one year that Mayawati has been Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. The Dalit icon has been busy razing and rebuilding huge structures, including those she had ordered to be constructed during her previous three stints as chief minister of India’s most populous state.

If the 52-year-old created history by leading the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to a spectacular victory in May 2007, her demolitions too are unprecedented. But she is not bothered by mounting criticism.

The impressive Ambedkar sports complex here was listed to face the bulldozers soon after she assumed power May 13 last year.

But that did not happen when, two months later, the attempt was frustrated by an unusual and widely hailed directive from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.

In an unprecedented move, the court held a special hearing past midnight and around 3.30 a.m. stalled the demolition.

Responding to appeals from sportspersons and sports lovers, Justice Pradeep Kant also pulled up the Mayawati government.

Mayawati wanted to pull down the sports complex to merge its 50 acres of land to the adjoining 108-acre Ambedkar Park, which she wished to expand to build a sprawling memorial to Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar.

Her government’s plea that a sports complex of international class would be up on the outskirts of Lucknow did not satisfy the court.

Mayawati didn’t give up and challenged the high court directive in the Supreme Court. Barely 24 hours before completing her first year in office, she had the last laugh.

The apex court vacated the stay on the demolition and she wasted no time time in razing the structure to the ground. The government had no patience to use bulldozers and preferred dynamiting it.

The stay was lifted after the original petitioner withdrew the petition amid allegations that he was intimidated to do so.

Mayawati has always been lucky vis-a-vis the courts when it comes to litigations involving demolitions — be it the multiple buildings in and around the Ambedkar park complex, a convention centre, a library or a guest house.

Even sprawling government bungalows allotted in the name of Mayawati, her party or other allied trusts and bodies have not been spared.

At least three bungalows, including one allotted to her as a former chief minister, besides a sprawling estate housing the office of state cane commissioner, were razed in Lucknow’s posh Mall Avenue.

While two of the bungalows, with nearly 100,000 sq feet of land, were converted into the new BSP state headquarters, two others with just about the same space made way for building what was named “Kanshi Ram Ratri Vishram Sthal”.

Another bungalow reconstructed as the BSP state headquarter during her third stint in the same neighbourhood was bulldozed before she completed one year in office Tuesday.

According to insiders, the plot measuring about 45,000 sq feet of land would be utilised to build a photo gallery in memory of Kanshi Ram, the late BSP founder leader.

This is besides a sprawling Kanshi Ram Memorial to be built at a cost of about Rs.7.5 billion on a 25-acre ground chopped away from the Lucknow district jail land and earlier christened Ambedkar Maidan.

A substitute for the maidan, earmarked for political rallies and public fairs, was created at least 15 km from the heart of the town and named after Rama Bai Ambedkar, the wife of Ambedkar.

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