WikiLeaks: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati sent jet to collect shoes

Monday, September 5, 2011

The "Dalit Queen".
File photo of Chief Minister Mayawati.
Image: Uttar Pradesh official website.

According to United States diplomatic cables passed to WikiLeaks, Mayawati, Chief Minister of the Indian northern state Uttar Pradesh, made use of her private jet to have sandals collected from Mumbai.

Mayawati, a member of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – which claims to follow a Dalit Socialism ideology – self-identifies as a Dalit. The Dalits are largely those traditionally regarded as Untouchables within Indian society.

One cable, named "Portrait of a Lady", recently published by WikiLeaks describes the 55-year-old Mayawati as, "a first-rate egomaniac who is obsessed with becoming prime minister".

"When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand," a cable dated October 23, 2008 states; adding, the chief minister is paranoid about her security and fears assassination, employing food tasters to guard against poisoning. The US embassy documents state Mayawati celebrates her birthday each year by receiving millions of dollars in gifts from party members, civil servants and business people whilst officials vie for a chance to feed her cake. An account of Mayawati making a state minister do sit-ups in front of her as punishment for a minor protocol error is included.

Further allegations report a cost of $250,000 to run as a parliamentary candidate for the BSP headed by Mayawati; this allegedly due to institutionalised corruption. "She constructed a private road from her residence to her office, which is cleaned immediately after her multiple vehicle convoy reaches its destination," the cables claim.

Mayawati, often referred to as the "Dalit Queen", has been criticised many times, notably for the building of numerous statues of Buddhist and Dalit icons, and of herself.

The single, ex-school teacher, has as-yet not responded to the allegations made in the newly published cables.