"The chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh state sent an empty private jet to get a pair of sandals from Mumbai, leaked US diplomatic cables say.
Ms Mayawati, an icon to millions of low-caste Dalits, rules over India's most populous state which is also one of the poorest in the country.
But the cables on whistleblower site Wikileaks described her as "obsessed with becoming Prime Minister"."
""When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand," the cables say.
They add that the chief minister is paranoid about her security and "fears assassination" and employs "food tasters" to guard against poisoning.
She maintains a "vice-like grip on all levels of power" and all decisions must run through her or a small group of advisors, the releases say.
Ms Mayawati has sparked controversy for building statues of herself and other Dalit icons, but she denies encouraging a personality cult.
In the last few years, huge concrete parks have been built in the state capital, Lucknow, and Noida, a Delhi suburb, with scores of massive stone statues of Ms Mayawati dotting the landscape.
Statues of political leaders are generally put up posthumously, but Ms Mayawati says that belief is outdated.
Critics accuse her of self-glorification. She accuses them of conspiring against her."
Not entirely surprising, India is just as susceptible to fraud and corruption as any other country, but it begs the question why a Nuclear armed state which has its own space program and now has its own aid program to Africa is still getting development aid from Western countries.
Under India's Hindu based system, many Indians, even if they aren't Hindu will be limited in their political, economic, cultural, religious and personal rights depending on how high up the caste they are. Positive discrimination against 'Untouchables', or 'Dalits' allows them political participation; often hiding the fact that every other low caste Indian are denied these rights. The 'Other Backward Castes' as the Government designates them do not have the same rights as the bottom line. In recent years some Indian castes have rioted in an attempt to get _downgraded_ to Untouchable in order to get voting rights, right to stand for election and government subsidised jobs.
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