Lucknow: The sacking of 10 ministers in so many days by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has not only created a record of sorts but is now also being seen as her image make-over exercise ahead of the State Assembly Elections next month.
Even earlier in the preceding four years, Mayawati had shown the door to nearly 15 ministers for different reasons, but the ones to go now were largely because of corruption charges.
"The Chief Minister decided to drop some ministers over the recent past essentially because of their alleged involvement in irregularities, including misuse of office for their personal gains," said a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) party leader, who preferred not to be named.
Some of these ministers were also indicted by the state Lokayukta for their involvement in corrupt activities and Mayawati`s prompt action against them was clearly aimed at sending the message around that she was a "no-nonsense" Chief Minister.
"The Chief Minister does not believe in sparing anyone - no matter how high or mighty - once he is found to be guilty of committing irregularities particularly in financial matters," said the leader, adding: "This was the reason behind the sacking of most of the ministers over the recent past."
While the image-building exercise was being masterminded by a Delhi-based advertisement and marketing company, the action against ministers also followed complaints from people living in the respective constituencies of the ministers.
Reports received from BSP coordinators from different regions initially prompted Mayawati to first deny a party ticket to these ministers from their respective constituencies.
"Further inquiries revealed that these ministers had also been misusing their offices for their personal gains and for benefitting their near and dear ones. Some of them had also started indulging in anti-party activities by hobnobbing with rival political parties, therefore action became imminent against them," the BSP leader added.
Asked why the corrupt activities of these ministers were ignored over the past five years, the leader shot back that "action could have followed only when Behenji would get to know about their activities".
One of the sacked ministers, accused of corruption, however, maintained that the action was just a "sham to give the impression that this Chief Minister believes in clean governance, when the whole world knows how many scams she is herself involved in".
Another recently-fired minister Fateh Bahadur Singh went on to ask that if corruption was really an issue with Mayawati, then why was the most corrupt minster entrusted with as many as 18 portfolios.
He was making an indirect reference to Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who was not only handling the state`s most lucrative ministries but who was also facing a probe by the Lokayukta.
Former BSP general secretary Naresh Agarwal, who recently switched loyalties to the Samajwadi Party, said: "All the action against ministers was just an eyewash to impress the people of the state that she was ready to sacrifice even her close ones if they were found guilty of corrupt practices."
He, however, wondered how many people would buy this.
"Who does not know that Mayawati and corruption are inseparable? The voter is not a fool and can clearly see through her game," Agarwal quipped.