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Mayawati's garland worth crores attracts scrutiny by the I-T dept

But BSP general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui rejected speculation about the value of the notes in the garland, saying the total was only "Rs21 lakh".

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The sycophancy of BSP workers has landed their party chief Mayawati in big trouble.

The Income Tax Department (I-T) has started an investigation into the garland of thousand-rupee notes which BSP workers gifted her during Monday’s rally in Lucknow, organised to mark the party’s 25th anniversary.

“We have begun an inquiry into the matter… we are looking into the source of funding of this garland,” a senior I-T official said. He said the department was collecting photographs and video footage of the garland from various sources, including newspapers and TV channels which covered the event.

Initial inquiries revealed that the garland was woven at the Lucknow residence of a senior BSP leader by artistes from Karnataka who had arrived there a month in advance.

BSP general secretary and senior minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui told reporters that the garland had been gifted by the party’s Lucknow unit and that it had 1,000-rupee notes worth Rs 21 lakh only. BSP sources said the garland has been secretly sent away to Delhi under heavy security cover.

Opposition leaders called the statement ridiculous. “Look at the size of the garland. It surely can’t be made of 2,100 notes only,” Congress MP Jagdambika Pal said. He said that the garland contained thousands of notes which would total over Rs 20 crore.

Interestingly, Mayawati did not open her mouth on the controversy which continued to hog headlines in several news channels on Tuesday.

The garland issue led to two adjournments in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Backed by the BJP, Congress and Samajwadi Party members from UP demanded a CBI probe into the expenses incurred in the contentious rally.

It was the second day of disruptions in Lok Sabha over Mayawati. Proceedings were disrupted on Monday when Congress and SP members protested her government’s “apathy” towards riot-hit Bareilly, which has now been under curfew for 15 days.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari equated the BSP chief to the infamous Roman emperor Nero. “What kind of a government is this? Bareilly is burning and there is celebration in Lucknow. The Nero sitting in UP has a big role,” Tiwari said, demanding a judicial enquiry into the riots by a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court.

Former BJP president and Ghaziabad MP Rajnath Singh dubbed the lavish celebrations as “complete misuse of state government’s machinery.”

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