A day after the ED detected deposits of a whopping Rs 104 crore in BSP’s bank account, a furious party supremo Mayawati dubbed it as an attempt by “anti-dalit” BJP and Modi government to tarnish her party’s image by misusing the official machinery. Two senior ministers in the Modi dispensation, including BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP, shot back, saying her dalit identity does not give her “licence” to engage in corruption and that the former UP chief minister was trying to “hide corruption” by raking up the issue of her origin.
A major contender for power in the most populous state of the country which goes to polls a few months from now, Mayawati claimed the money detected by the Enforcement Directorate at a Delhi bank on Monday was accounted for and played the dalit card in her bid to turn the tables on BJP, calling it “anti-dalit”. “BJP leaders having casteist mentality do not want that a ‘dalit ki beti’ should get the master key of the biggest state’s politics and work for the welfare of 90% poor and deprived…it will bring an end to their capitalist politics,” she told a hurriedly called press conference in Lucknow.
“All deposits are as per norms and party rules and the money was collected before note ban. Should we have thrown it?” she asked.
Terming the ED action as an effort to tarnish BSP’s image ahead of UP Assembly elections just few months away, Mayawati said the “anti-Dalit” BJP managed a section of the media. “After I exposed the conspiracy of BJP in forcing an alliance between SP and Congress yesterday, BJP was taken aback and out of sheer frustration it indulged in such a petty act against BSP and family members of the party chief,” she alleged.
BJP, which is seeking to re-establish its primacy in the key Hindi heartland state following a remarkable showing in the Lok Sabha polls there in 2014, hit back quickly, insisting she was trying to hide corruption by using her dalit identity. “Her allegations are baseless and we reject it with the contempt they deserve. If the Enforcement Directorate does a routine exercise, why is she so rattled? Will your corruption be hidden in the name of Dalits.
“Does Mayawati want to say that her corruption should be seen as a fight against dalits? It is an insult of dalits,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference in Delhi. Noting that she did not deny the deposits in the BSP’s account, he asked, “It raises a bigger question. Is it a donation or money conversion exercise?”
Paswan, a prominent dalit face in the ruling NDA, came down heavily on Mayawati, saying her origin does not give her a “licence” to indulge in corruption and that she should let the law take its own course. “My party LJP works for Dalits. We have six Lok Sabha members and the total money in LJP’s bank account is Rs 1,03,198. Being a daughter of a dalit does not give you licence to indulge in corruption. She must let law take its course and let authorities probe her party’s account,” he told reporters in the national capital.
Mocking Mayawati’s strident opposition to demonetization since it was announced on November 8, the LJP president said it has now become clear “why the likes of her and RJD chief Lalu Prasad” have been its most vocal critics. “They were hit the hardest. That is why they are making so much of noise,” he said.
Mayawati, however, insisted that “every rupee” in BSP’s account in a Delhi bank were accounted for. “We have account of every rupee deposited in bank…this money has been collected through membership fee all over the country and brought for deposit by converting it into big denomination notes as it is easy to carry from remote areas,” she said.
Mayawati, however, said the ED action at BJP’s bidding was a “good omen” for her party as in 2007 too when the then NDA government at the Centre had raked up Taj corridor issue, it had helped her secure an absolute majority in the UP Assembly. “If Modi and central government take a few more decisions like note ban, it will make our return to power in UP easier …they will pave our way for an easy victory and I will not have to toil much…I want to thank them for it,” she said.
The ED detected cash deposits totalling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to the BSP on Monday and Rs 1.43 crore in another belonging to Mayawati’s brother Anand at a branch of United Bank of India in Delhi during a routine survey and enquiry operations to check suspicious and huge cash deposits in banks post-demonetization. “BJP and other parties have also deposited their money in banks. Nobody is talking about that,” she said, adding it only proved the “anti-dalit and casteist mentality” of the ruling party.
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she demanded that he make public the deposits made by BJP during the 10 months preceding the November 8 decision of banning Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. “If BJP and the PM have any truth and honesty left, they would have disclosed BJP’s deposits 10 months before November 8 and after that date while making BSP’s deposits public,” she said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected Mayawati’s claim that the ED’s action was linked to her assertion that the BJP was pushing SP and Congress for an alliance for the UP assembly polls. “This is nothing but her frustration. She made these comments only yesterday while deposits were made much earlier… As far as BJP is concerned, even if SP, BSP and Congress come together, it will emerge victorious,” he said.