In a clear bid to turn the tables on detractors, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday came out with an old photograph of Congress president Sonia Gandhi wearing a garland of currency notes at a protest demonstration in Lucknow.
Accusing the opposition of trying to malign UP Chief Minister Mayawati's image by raking a controversy over the garland of currency notes presented to her at a BSP rally in Lucknow, senior party leader and state PWD minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui asked why no question was raised when the Congress chief wore a similar garland.
"When the BSP supremo is offered such a garland, a lot of hue and cry is raised but when Congress president wears it no one raises a question," Siddiqui said while displaying a photograph in which Gandhi is seen wearing a garland made of currency notes.
The opposition, however, dismissed it as a "mere gimmick" by the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, which is facing the heat over Mayawati's money garland issue.
The BSP leader also displayed photographs of BJP leader L K Advani with a golden crown and Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav holding a silver club.
"While the BSP chief's garland was made from donations given by the poor and dalit supporters, the others were offered costly items from the money of capitalists and industrialists," he alleged.
Attacking Samajwadi Party, Siddiqui said "how could a simple teacher like Mulayam Singh Yadav amass such huge wealth.
"Not only he himself but his family members like brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, sons Akhilesh and Prateek and daughter-in -law Dimple today own tens of thousand crores," he alleged.
The Congress said the BSP's move was a "futile bid" to divert people's attention from the "real" issue.
"Sonia Gandhi does not require anyone's certificate as all are aware that she is in public life neither for power nor money," Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.
"Those releasing some photograph of her in which she is seen with a garland with few currency notes should know that this cannot divert people's attention from the real issue of the multi-crore garland offered to Mayawati," he said.
On Advani's photo, BJP's UP unit president Hriday Narain Dixit said "the two things (crown and cash garland) cannot be compared.
"We demand that the BSP tell the people about the source of the garland which was offered to Mayawati," Dixit said.
Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said the BSP cannot divert the attention from the issue through "these gimmicks as people know that through the garland, they had tried to convert their black money into white".