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Mulayam, PM shielding Tandon: Maya

However, BSP leader Mayawati feels the Prime Minister could not be held directly responsible for organising the saree distribution.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON APR 17, 2004 08:02 PM IST

BSP President Mayawati on Saturday accused the Prime Minister and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister of trying to "shield" senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon after the stampede that left 22 women dead during a saree distribution function but felt that Atal Bihari Vajpayee could not be held directly responsible for organsing the programme.

Terming the saree distribution function as "a clear violation of model code of conduct", she said "if the function was held with the knowledge of the Prime Minister, he too could be held responsible for it."

"However, we cannot say for sure that the Prime Minister was aware of the function and hence he should not be held directly responsible for it. But Tandon cannot wash off his hands," Mayawati told reporters here.

Alleging that Vajpayee was trying to "save" Tandon, she said the Prime Minsiter should have removed Tandon as his chief election agent immediately after the tragedy and expelled him from the party.

"There is no doubt that the function was organsied to bribe Dalit and poor women to gain their votes for the polls," Mayawati alleged.

Welcoming the Election Commission's direction to the state government to register a case of bribery against Tandon, she said "a case under section 302 (murder) and Anti- Corruption Act should have been filed against him soon after the stampede on Monday, but instead Mualaym Singh Yadav sought to defend him saying such tragedies are normal."

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