Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's top officials were out to impress upon the media that she was a landless person.
In an obvious reference to the allegations made by UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi who had earlier in the day charged the UP chief minister of amassing huge amounts of wealth and property, UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told a press conference in Lucknow on Tuesday, "The UP chief minister does not own an inch of land anywhere."
"As far as her properties are concerned, she is among the few Indians in public life who has voluntarily declared all her assets in her returns," he claimed.
When a scribe sought to draw his attention to the properties registered in the name of Mayawati's close kin, Singh shot back, "Well, she has repeatedly made it loud and clear to all and sundry that she has already relinquished all bonds with her family, so she can't be associated with any land owned by them."
Interestingly, a couple of palatial bungalows believed to be owned by her in some posh areas of Delhi and Lucknow are stated to be registered in the name of the Bahujan Trust. Some of the bungalows were also declared in her income tax returns.
The state cabinet secretary also vehemently denied allegations about "forcible" acquisition of agricultural land for the ambitious 100 km Ganga Expressway project.
"Under the revised land acquisition policy, the very question of any forcible acquisition is completely ruled out," he said.
"Any agricultural land can now be acquired only as per a mutual agreement arrived at between an infrastructure builder and the farmer; the district magistrate is however authorised to play the role of a facilitator in the negotiations," he added.