Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Shekhar Tiwari has been remanded to judicial custody till January 7 for allegedly killing a Public Works Department engineer for refusing to donate money for Mayawati's birthday celebrations.
Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who was facing flak after Tiwari was arrested for an engineer's murder, accused all opposition parties of mounting a slander campaign against her.
"The allegations of different political parties about arrested MLA Shekhar Tiwari indulging in extortion for my birthday celebrations are absolutely baseless and false," Mayawati told a hurriedly convened press conference in Lucknow.
"Such wild allegations only reflect the frustration of opposition parties as they have lost all grounds and therefore had resorted to dirty politics," she said.
MK Gupta, a Public Works Department (PWD) engineer, was killed early on Wednesday, allegedly by Tiwari and his henchmen. He was punished for refusing to donate money for Mayawati's birthday celebrations as demanded by the legislator, his kin and opposition parties have said.
Mayawati admitted that her birthday, Jan 15, was traditionally observed as 'aarthic sahayog diwas' (financial help day), with her followers collecting funds for that day.
Justifying the fund collection, Mayawati said: "We are a party of economically weak and downtrodden people, without any kind of support from industrialists and businessmen, who are patrons of other political parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"We therefore depend on contribution from supporters, who donate to the party funds on my birthday."
She, however, added: "This time I have issued directions for such funds to come only from party functionaries and not MPs and MLAs of the party."
In a retort to the opposition, Mayawati declared that her next birthday would be celebrated as `dhikkar diwas' (condemnation day) without the usual bash.
"BSP workers will stage rallies at all district headquarters across the state to condemn all political parties which have been making false and wild allegations about extortion of money for my birthday. They will expose misdeeds of the Congress-led UPA, BJP-led NDA and their allies, including the Samajwadi Party."