New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati inaugurated the Rashtriya Dalit Smarak in Noida on Friday amid much fanfare.
The park, which cost Rs 685 crores to the state’s exchequer, is meant to honour Dalit icons and has over two dozen huge statues of Mayawati, her mentor Kanshi Ram and Dr BR Ambedkar among others.
The statues of Mayawati’s parents also adorn the park.
Later while addressing the crowd Mayawati said that she was extremely happy at the inauguration of her dream project. “My government in all the four terms has been dedicated in changing the social fabric of the society. The Dalits have always been neglected by other parties," she said, adding, “The Congress party ruled for the longest time in the sate – 38 years – but they did nothing to rid the people of poverty and unemployment.”
Under attack over the controversial Rs 685-crore Dalit memorial, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati hit out at Congress saying it had no
right to criticise when it has raised so many memorials for
the Nehru-Gandhi family across the Yamuna bank in Delhi.
She also attacked Congress and BJP for "ignoring" Dalit
icons BR Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram.
"In Delhi, central government has constructed various
memorials on the western bank of Yamuna to honour people like
Nehru and Gandhi, but not a single one has been built for
dalit icons like Bhim Rao Ambedkar and founder of BSP Kanshi
Ram," Mayawati said.
Justifying the Rastriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green
Garden project, Mayawati said, "We always felt the need to
have a memorial dedicated to the icons of Dalit community and
this is one such for the benefit of Dalits living around the
national capital region including western Uttar Pradesh."
The sentiments of people from Dalit community were badly
hurt due to central government`s attitude of "ignoring" the
works of Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, she said.
"The Opposition tried to stall the project in Noida but finally we got justice from the Supreme Court`" she further said.
"We have spent only one percent of the money in building the parks in the state from the state exchequer," she clarified, sending a message to her detractors.
Directly attacking the Congress president, the BSP chief said that inspite of the assurances given by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 2003 that the Congress would support her in the disproportionate assets case, the party backtracked on its words. “The Congress has been in power since 2004 but did nothing to give justice to me. The Congress in what can be perceived to be a selfish motive has used the CBI against me. The Congress like the BJP also uses the state machinery.”
The UP CM also accused the Centre for not giving adequate financial help to the state of Uttar Pradesh.
She challenged the Congress to make a Dalit the Prime Minister of the country. She questioned why Babu Jagjivan Ram or for that matter Meira Kumar was not given the highest position of the country. With an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections, the BSP chief said that the Congress will not get any votes from the backward strata of the state.
Also attacking the BJP, Mayawati ridiculed the rath yatra being undertaken by LK Advani. The BSP supremo said that the yatra was a mere “drama” and was only aimed at projecting Advani as the PM candidate. She also hit at her bitter rival Samajwadi Party for criticising the law and order in UP, saying that they should first introspect on what they did when they were in power.
The memorial has been erected on a land that initially housed a park. When work first began for building it in 2008, residents were upset as they were denied access to the park. Then over 6,000 trees were cut.
Angry residents then moved Supreme Court. An initial enquiry ordered by the Environment Ministry found several environmental violations. And the fact that the memorial was coming up close to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary further compounded issues. But in December last year, the Supreme Court cleared the project with a rider - not more than 25 percent of the total 84 acres could be paved, the rest would have to be planted with trees.
Several other court cases have challenged Mayawati`s decision to use taxpayers` money to fund her mega memorials. Most of them remain unsettled. Mayawati’s political opponents have accused the Chief minister of having a feudal mindset and wasting crores of tax payers’ money for installing statues of her family members.
The Supreme Court`s go ahead to the park might have left the local residents fuming but the Noida administration has left no stone unturned in ensuring a grand opening of the park today.
Days ahead of the inauguration, Noida has been witnessing a flurry of activities aimed at making the city beautiful. As a result, several freshly-painted buildings, new lighting, clean roads and hundreds of BSP banners welcoming the Chief Minister have been installed.
Although whole Noida seems to be involved, most of the activity is concentrated around the Chief Minister`s dream project- the Ambedkar Park - officially the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Smarak Evam Green Garden.
The park, which is in Mayawati`s native Badalpur village, features grand lawns, hundreds of trees and fountains.
A number of lawns have been manicured and trees assembled in symmetrical rows. Scores of workers have also sandpapered the recently-built fountains and pathways that run through the park.
Outside, the road leading up to the park has also been given a complete makeover. Two fresh coats of paint along the road and the curb as well as new tree protectors make it seem like the roads have been built anew especially for the inauguration.
Streetlights have been replaced, in some cases with floodlights that will illuminate the park in the evening.
Mayawati also inaugurated a slew of other projects as well, including a boys college, the main campus of the Gautam Buddh College, an 84- crore Buddhist Museum and Research Centre and a number of other works.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place to avoid any untoward incident. Consequently, traffic restrictions were also imposed in and around the memorial and the traffic was being diverted at several places - Film City crossing, Mahamaya flyover and other sectors of Noida.