INDIA’S Dalit queen Mayawati has demanded the Australian government commit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to a “mental asylum” after leaked US cables revealed the politician sent an empty jet to Mumbai to pick up a pair of sandals.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister, infamous for her extravagance and self-reverence, flew into a fury this week over an October 2008 WikiLeaks cable entitled “Portrait of a Lady”, which also claimed her paranoia over security had led her to employ food tasters.
Instead of directing her ire at the US embassy, she let fly at the Australian-born WikiLeaks chief, accusing him of being anti-Dalit. “The owner of WikiLeaks has gone mad or he has joined hands with our opposition parties to malign my government,” she said.
She added: “I request the government of his country to send him to a mental asylum and in case they are all full, I will make space for him in the mental asylum in (the city of) Agra.”
Mr Assange responded yesterday by suggesting Mayawati had “betrayed rational thought”. Demanding an apology, he urged her to complain to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But he added that after being under house arrest in Britain for 272 days, he “would be happy to accept asylum, political asylum, in India – a nation I love”.
“In return, I will bring Mayawati a range of the finest British footwear,” he said.
As the chief minister of India’s most populous state, and one of its poorest, Mayawati is revered by millions of low-caste Dalits, who were formerly known as Untouchables.