Julian Assange, Editor-in-Chief, WikiLeaks fix Ms.Mayawati

The chief minister of India’s Uttar Pradesh state sent an empty private jet to get a pair of sandals from Mumbai, leaked US diplomatic cables say.

Ms Mayawati, an icon to millions of low-caste Dalits, rules over India’s most populous state which is also one of the poorest in the country.

But the cables on whistleblower site Wikileaks described her as “obsessed with becoming Prime Minister”.

Ms Mayawati or her office is yet to respond to the leaked cables.

An official in the state government told the BBC the government was unlikely to respond.

Cables, dated 23 October 2008 and marked confidential, are among the latest set of documents released by Wikileaks in recent days.

“When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand,” the cables say.

They add that the chief minister is paranoid about her security and “fears assassination” and employs “food tasters” to guard against poisoning.

She maintains a “vice-like grip on all levels of power” and all decisions must run through her or a small group of advisors, the releases say.

Ms Mayawati has sparked controversy for building statues of herself and other Dalit icons, but she denies encouraging a personality cult.

In the last few years, huge concrete parks have been built in the state capital, Lucknow, and Noida, a Delhi suburb, with scores of massive stone statues of Ms Mayawati dotting the landscape.

Statues of political leaders are generally put up posthumously, but Ms Mayawati says that belief is outdated.

Critics accuse her of self-glorification. She accuses them of conspiring against her.

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Mayawati and Julian Assange were today involved in an unseemly spat with the UP chief minister suggesting that he be sent to a mental asylum and the WikiLeaks founder hitting back by asking her to apologise.

“I would request the government of his country to send him(Assange) to a mental asylum and if they have no place for him in his country we can put him in our Agra mental hospital”, Mayawati told reporters in Lucknow.

Assange struck back. “I ask that Mayawati admit her error and apologise. Should she fail to do so, she is welcome to send a private jet to England to collect me, where I have been detained against my will, under house arrest for the last 272 days. I would be happy to accept asylum, political asylum, in India, a nation I love. In return, I will bring Mayawati a range of the finest British footwear,” he said in a statement.

Going ballistic against Asssange, an enraged Mayawati rejected as baseless the allegations against her in the cables, saying the “WikiLeaks owner” has gone “mad” or either playing into the hands of her political opponents.

She was responding to leaked US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks last week describing how the BSP supremo once allegedly dispatched her empty private jet to fetch her favourite sandals from Mumbai. Mayawati had food tasters to sample her meals and a “security entourage to rival a head of state”, it claimed.

The cables quoting an aide of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also said she was a person with a “penchant for personal corruption” and “a strong authoritarian streak”.

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“They are wrong, mischievous and derogatory and an effort to damage the image of the government. I condemn them.

“This is a conspiracy to defame the honest party workers and to create an environment of distrust within the party,” she said.

In his statement, Assange said that “Mayawati has betrayed the rational thought. The question is, has she also betrayed the Dalit?”

Julian Assange, Editor-in-Chief, WikiLeaks, in response to the comments made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on WikiLeaks cables about her, which set off a controversy.

Mayawati has betrayed rational thought. The question is, has she also betrayed the Dalit?

There is no question that the documents are official papers from the U.S. embassy. These papers have been proven the world over, including by the aggressive persecution of our people by Washington. The allegations within them are made by US diplomats in their private communications back to Hillary Clinton. If chief minister Mayawati has a problem with the contents of these communications she needs to take it up with Hillary.

I ask that Mayawati admit her error and apologise.

Should she fail to do so, she is welcome to send her private jet to England to collect me, where I have been detained against my will, under house arrest, for the last 272 days. I would be happy to accept asylum, political asylum, in India — a nation I love. In return, I will bring Mayawati a range of the finest British footwear.

— Julian Assange

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