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Mayawati says 'sharm karo' protest not against Rahul

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
June 19, 2009 18:45 IST
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In an obvious afterthought, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Friday was at pains to dispel the common impression that the statewide protest demonstrations organised to mark the day as "sharm karo" (feel ashamed) day had anything to do with the Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's birthday.

Nearly a week after she had announced her decision to hold protest demonstrations, the inimitable Bahujan Samaj Party supremo clarified on the issue.

"We selected June 19 to launch an awareness campaign about the casteist approach of the opposition parties and to attack the Centre for its anti-Dalit policies; but that had nothing to do with Rahul Gandhi's birthday, which I am told also falls today," she claimed at a rally she addressed before the Lucknow collectorate on Friday.

"In any case, I understand that Rahul Gandhi is not celebrating his birthday on Indian soil, but had chosen some foreign country," she quipped.

"Let me tell you that I chose June 19 because it was on this day that I was required to prove my first government's strength on the floor of the state assembly after I became chief minister of the state for the first time," she pointed out.

However, it was amply evident from the pamphlet distributed across the state earlier in the day that Rahul was clearly the target as she was quite sarcastic about 'Congress leaders bid to woo Dalits by playing gimmicks like sharing a meal with them or by spending a night in their homes."

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow