India Politics
Tough-talking Mayawati takes charge in Uttar Pradesh
May 13, 2007 - 7:06:03 PM

Lucknow, May 13 - It was tough talk by Mayawati as she took charge of India's most populous state for the fourth time Sunday, promising to 'end jungle raj', probe all 'shady deals' of the previous Samajwadi Party - government and 'not spare' the guilty.

'I wish to restore the rule of law and end the jungle raj unleashed by the previous regime in the state,' she told a press conference after her 49-member cabinet was sworn in by Governor T. V. Rajeshwar on the lawns of Raj Bhawan.

Clad in her favourite pink salwar kameez, the Dalit leader was administered the oath of office as chief minister by the governor at around 1.30 p.m.

'Whatever the Samajwadi Party government did against the larger public interest anywhere in the state would be inquired into and anyone found guilty of corruption would not be spared at any cost,' she said.

On the upcoming presidential election in which her party holds the key, she kept her cards close to her chest.

'I will tell you about it at my next press conference,' she said while announcing that she would implement all poll promises but would have to see the treasury whether her predecessor has left 'anything in it.'

Admitting that the state badly needed development, Mayawati added: 'But before I can chalk out any such plans, I have to see the state of our treasury. I must find out whether Mulayam Singh Yadav has left any funds or not, otherwise we will have to devise new means to raise resources so that such tasks can be taken up in due course.'

Disbanding the previous government's much hyped Uttar Pradesh Development Council, headed by SP general secretary Amar Singh, was among her key announcements on the first day.

Promising to root out corruption at all levels in the government, Mayawati - the country's first Dalit woman to head a state government - made it clear that she would also ensure justice to 'all those who did not get a fair deal under the Mulayam regime'.

'I understand that a number of undesirable persons were provided official security,' she said. 'That would be withdrawn with immediate effect.'

Clearly disapproving of the unemployment dole initiated by her predecessor for unemployed graduates, the BSP chief promised to ensure jobs to them. 'We will create employment instead of giving away such doles,' she said.

Affirming that her government would not allow any kind of communal tension to prevail in the state, Mayawati promised full security to the minorities as well as the downtrodden and underprivileged classes of society.

'The life and property of people belonging to all religions will be protected and nobody will be allowed to indulge in violence in the name of religion,' she asserted.

Mayawati also decided to scrap all major decisions taken by her predecessor after the Election Commission's February announcement of the assembly elections. 'We will review and inquire into each of these decisions,' she added.

To the bureaucracy her message was: 'Officials found guilty of inefficiency or dishonesty will not be just transferred or shifted, but they will be severely punished.'

She acted immediately when after her visit to the Ambedkar memorial park - created in memory of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar the last time she was in power - in the city, she suspended three officials for not taking proper care of it.

She said 'immediate attention' would be given to electricity, water, education and health.

The BSP supremo, whose party won a thumping majority in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, becomes the 40th chief minister of India's most populous and politically crucial state. She had met the governor Saturday and staked her claim to the top job. Her party had won 206 seats in the 403-member assembly.

She was earlier unanimously elected BSP legislature party leader. She will head the first single-party government in the state after 16 years.

Mulayam Singh Yadav was also present in the gathering in the lawns.

Later, it was Mayawati's proud mother who hugged her daughter after the oath-taking ceremony, saying, 'I am very happy and proud.'

Asked about greeting her on the Mother's Day, Mayawati said, pointing to her mother: 'How will she know what it is.'

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