Mayawati jubilant as Taj corridor corruption case dropped


Lucknow : Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was jubilant after Governor T.V. Rajeshwar Tuesday refused to allow the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute her on charges of corruption in an ambitious project to build a shopping mall close to the Taj Mahal when she was in power the last time.

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The governor refused the statutory permission to initiate prosecution proceedings against the chief minister on grounds of "insufficient evidence". He also stated that there was neither any connivance, nor any culpability on the part of Mayawati in what has come to be known as the Taj Corridor scam.

The governor's 23-page report was submitted before the designated court here Tuesday. Prepared after prolonged consultations with Additional Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam, it clearly spelt out that no prima facie case could be built against Mayawati on the basis of the evidence gathered by the investigation agency.

After the governor's decision, the special designated court here explicitly dropped the case against the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief who last month took over as chief minister for the fourth time.

Mayawati's cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Siddiqui, a co-accused in the case who was environment minister during her previous stint, also won reprieve.

The reprieve spurred Mayawati to launch a scathing criticism of the former central government that had moved against her, and combined it with an attack on the media.

She said the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had consciously and deliberately filed a false case on her.

"They had the government in the centre and they used the CBI. It was also one of their men who went to the Supreme Court," Mayawati told a hurriedly called press conference here.

"Even you all (media persons) are to blame for not only running me down and defaming me but also for blowing the whole thing far out of proportion.

"I fail to understand how media went about describing it as a Rs.175 crore (Rs.1.75 billion) scam. Let me tell you that the total disbursement made for the plan was just about Rs.17 crores (Rs.170 million) and not Rs.175 crores," she emphasized.

The Taj Corridor plan involved construction of high-rise commercial complexes with malls, multiplexes along the Yamuna riverbank in the backdrop of the 17th century architectural wonder.

Mayawati said: "There was never any such plan, it was just a figment of imagination of the media and certain political parties."

CBI officials were not available for comment.