Unfortunately, there is never a dull day in Indian politics. Take this Monday for example. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, chief of the low-caste Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), brought in her party’s 25th birthday in style at a huge rally in state capital Lucknow. I don’t know if there were balloons and cakes but there was no shortage of bees, bounty and controversy.
Mayawati, undoubtedly one of our smartest grassroots politicians, was honoured with a gigantic garland strung not of flowers but (reportedly) of R.s 1,000 notes by enthusiastic party workers. Opposition leaders and her critics were outraged at what they called a blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money. Mayawati’s party maintains the garland was a contribution from party supporters. Several opposition leaders have claimed the garland is worth crores of rupees, while a BSP minister said it cost Rs. 21 lakhs. After outbursts over the garland erupted in Parliament, the Income Tax Department said it will investigate where the funds came from.
But, the buzz from the birthday bash isn’t limited to this. Mayawati is upset about the swarm of bees she had to wave off as she delivered her speech. The BSP has claimed a conspiracy behind the sudden appearance of the winged-creatures, suggesting that bee hives in the vicinity of the rally were deliberately set on fire to sabotage the event. In a press release, the party said, ‘Today when Mayawati was addressing a rally at the Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan, someone set fire to some bushes in a nearby compound of the Kendriya Vidyalaya and that set alight the bees from the beehive. These bees then moved rapidly towards the stage and wandered around the Chief Minister for at least an hour. After which they formed a beehive on top of the stage. Without fear, the CM went ahead with her speech so that the rally doesn’t get disrupted. But an inquiry is being conducted to find out who has done this.’
The Uttar Pradesh government which Mayawati heads has assigned a senior police rank officer to find out about the mysterious bees. Clearly, this is one party with a hangover that’s not going away soon.