Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati crossed swords – long distance – with anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday and suggested that his next port of call should be the Agra mental asylum.
“The WikiLeaks owner has either gone mad or is playing in the playing in the hands of the opposition parties,” Mayawati said at a press conference.
Assange, who is under house arrest in England, accepted the offer promptly and asked for the Dalit leader’s private jet – that, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable, was sent to Mumbai to bring the leader’s favourite sandals – to travel to India.
“I would be happy to accept asylum, political asylum, in India – a nation I love,” he told a news channel.
He even offered to bring the finest British shoes for her.
Mayawati was upset with the leaked US diplomatic cables last week portraying her as a person with a “penchant for personal corruption” and “a strong authoritarian streak”.
But Assange said the papers to which she was objecting were made by diplomats and were a part of official documents of the US state department.
If she had any problem with the contents, she should take it up with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Mayawati also defended her cabinet secretary, Shashank Shekhar Singh, and BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, who are quoted in the cables as having said negative things about the leader.
“I will now give more importance to Mishra and Singh if such a malicious campaign continues against honest government functionaries,” said Mayawati told a press conference in Lucknow.
She lashed out against BJP national vice-president and spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had termed the expose as an “indicator of the rampant corruption in the Mayawati regime”.
“It appears the BJP leader accompanied the WikiLeaks owner to Mumbai to buy my sandals,” said the CM, though she refrained from naming Naqvi.
“Whatever has been stated by her… shows her frustration,” the BJP leader shot back.