Maya readies for 1st appearance after poll debacle

A mass marriage, thousands of people and illuminations in a 10 km area... the stage is set for BSP chief Mayawati to make her first public appearance.

Agra: A mass marriage, thousands of people and illuminations in a 10 km area... the stage is set for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati to make her first public appearance, after her defeat in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, at the 121st birth anniversary celebrations of Dalit icon Bhimrao R Ambedkar.

The former chief minister will do the honours on Sunday at the annual Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations at the newly created Bheem Nagri in Dhanuali, 10 km from here. It will be an ambitious programme that will also see Mayawati attempt to win over Dalit vote bank.

"Everyone is waiting to hear Mayawati, what she will say and if she will spell out the party line for future action programmes," said Geetam Singh, a BSP activist.

The meeting on Sunday will be preceded by an Ambedkar Jayanti procession with brass bands, tableaux depicting life and message of the Dalit messiah, who is the chief architect of the Constitution of India, a glittering march of horses and maybe even elephants if the forest department permits.

The procession meandered its way through the main streets of Agra on Saturday evening and will end up at Bheem Nagri on Sunday afternoon.

More than 400 buses will ferry people to the venue of the spectacular Dalit show on Sunday.

The backdrop of the massive stage will a 80 x 40 feet replica of Parliament. Opposite that will be a replica of the India Gate.

Bharat Singh, general secretary of the central organising committee, said six specially decorated gates have been put up and a 10 km area would be lit up and will have 300 loudspeakers. Arrangements have been made to seat 10,000 people.

Besides, a huge `baraat` of 101 bridegrooms will reach the venue where a mass marriage has been arranged according to Buddhist rituals.

Mayawati is coming for the fourth time to participate in this programme.

Political observers say she will use the platform to mobilise her vote bank and the rank and file of the party with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"She is set on Parliament and that is why the backdrop shows the Sansad Bhavan in glorious splendour. The Dalits have to ensure now that she rides to power in New Delhi," commented a BSP worker, Arvind Pushkar.

Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations in Agra, called the Dalit capital of North India because of the huge concentration of Dalits, most engaged in the shoe-making industry, are grand and unique. They were initially aimed at showing Dalit empowerment as a response to the Ram Lila celebrations of the upper castes.


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