Lucknow decked up for Mayawati`s b`day bash, Opp slams CM

Blue lights, hoardings and welcome arches dot virtually every crossing in Lucknow which has been decked up for UP Chief Minister Mayawati`s 55th birthday on Saturday.

Lucknow: Blue lights, hoardings and
welcome arches dot virtually every crossing in Lucknow which
has been decked up for UP Chief Minister Mayawati`s 55th
birthday on Saturday even as the opposition accused the ruling
BSP of "extorting" money and misusing government machinery.

The dalit leader, who has in the past courted
controversy over her birthday celebrations, will also announce
a slew of schemes during a programme at the newly constructed
Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar auditorium tomorrow morning.

The Chief Minister has been in the past slammed for
observing the day as `Arthik SahyoG Diwas` when "donations"
collected by party MPs, MLAs and workers were gifted to her.

But the sensational killing of a PWD engineer in
December 2008 allegedly by a BSP MLA and his aides after he
refused to give them money prompted Mayawati to stop the
practice.

Though Mayawati, who will face elections next year,
has asked party workers not to take "chanda" (donations) for
her birthday celebrations, opposition Samajwadi Party alleged
that officials were pressurised to "extort" money from people.

"The BSP supremo has been collecting money for the
birthday and the practice is on this year too. Government
funds are being misused blatantly for the celebrations,"
senior SP leader Ashok Bajpai said.

BJP leader Santosh Singh alleged that government
machinery was misused by the BSP for extorting money for "the
brazen show of power".

As in the past, several schemes and measures will be
unveiled by Mayawati including a new legislation aimed at
making government officials "accountable to the common man".

The Janhit Guarantee Bill promises timely
delivery of information and documents like birth and death
certificates and revenue records to the people, an official
said.

It also empowers the people to file complaints against
officials in case of a delay.

The people can appeal to Commissioners about the delay
and the officials will be fined if the complaints are found to
be true, he said.

The proposed legislation is on the lines of the Right
to Information Act (RTI) which came into effect in the country
in 2005.

Besides this, "a hike in financial assistance from Rs
300 per month to Rs 400 per month under Mukhyamantri Mahamaya
Garib Arthik Madad Yojna, which was launched on her previous
birthday, will be announced by the chief minister," the
official said.

The Chief Minister will be gifting mobile medical
units in remote areas of 15 districts where health facilities
are almost negligible, like Naxal affected areas.

Mayawati will also be launching the second phase of
a sewerage treatment plant in Lucknow, besides dedicating to
the people the renovation project in Hazratganj, one of the
oldest markets in the city which completed 200 years last
month.

Among the new projects to be inaugurated by the Chief
Minister is the auditorium constructed by Rajkiya Nirman Nigam
at Ram Manohar Lohia National University (RMLNLU), which
is named after Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

"The auditorium spread over an area of around 1,200
square metre will have a capacity of 3,100," the official
said.

All parks and memorials are being illuminated blue,
the BSP`s colour, to celebrate the occasion. In a bid to avoid
criticism from opposition parties, generators have been
installed wherever lighting arrangements have been made.

The entire 3-4 km stretch to Ambekdar Park from
Mayawati`s 5 Kalidas Marg residence has been lit up with blue
lights.

Senior party leaders, wannabe politicians, ticket
aspirants and local businessmen have put up hoardings by
dozens greeting Mayawati.

Mayawati had stirred controversy on the party`s
foundation day in March last year when she accepted a massive
garland of currency notes.

PTI

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