Jan. 28 - Kumari Mayawati, who was born in a New Delhi slum and rose to become leader of India's Uttar Pradesh state, is facing a pitched battle for re-election. Andrew Raven reports.
This is the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Home to 200 million people, it is one of the poorest parts of the country. And it's the centre of one of India's most intriguing political battles. This woman - Kumari Mayawati - is waging a campaign to be re-elected as chief minister - the state's top post. Born into poverty in a New Delhi slum, she's facing off against a scion of the Ghandi-Nehru family that has dominated India politics for decades. Credited with lowering the crime rate and reining in corruption, she has also been blasted for spending almost 400 million dollars on elaborate statues and parks. (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) A DALIT VILLAGER LIVING IN AMBEDKAR GRAM, MAHA DEV PRASAD, SAYING: "What is Mayawati doing for us? She is building parks in Delhi and cities, but for us in the villages she is doing nothing. We are not getting any pension, there is no water supply. She is not doing anything for the villager, she is only building parks in the cities." Others laud the work done by Mayawati - one of the few people to work their way up through India's rigid caste system. (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) DALIT VILLAGER LIVING IN BHADDI KHEDA, MATA PRASAD SAYING: "We people are aware and we realize that ever since Mayawati has come to power in our state, our fortunes have changed. Now it is our rule, we are enjoying its benefits." Once thought a contender for India's premiership, analysts say she'll be in tough ?????? during state elections, set for March. Andrew Raven, Reuters