Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Having been snubbed by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on numerous occasions, coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party finally had its way on the issue of the installation of the statue of the Tamil dalit leader E V S Ramaswamy Naicker 'Periyar'.
Ignoring repeated requests by the BJP, Mayawati had decided to go ahead with the installation of Periyar's statue at the Rs 1.3 billion Ambedkar park cum memorial in Lucknow.
She also told the media that the central leadership of the BJP did not have any objections to the installation, implying that the state leadership was creating obstacles.
But the firebrand Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar upped the ante by proclaiming in Lucknow: "If Periyar's statue is installed in Lucknow that would mark the end of the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh."
Katiyar repeated his announcement at Ayodhya on Wednesday when he went to seek the blessings of Ramchandra Paramhans, the frontline leader of the Ram temple movement.
Katiyar made it loud and clear: "We will not let the statue of Periyar be installed at any cost."
Within 24 hours of Katiyar's ultimatum, Mayawati turned turtle on the issue, blaming the media for the 'mix-up'.
"Who said we ever had any plans of installing Periyar's statue in Lucknow or for that matter anywhere in UP? Periyar belonged to the south, so if we have to install his statue, we will do so there so that we can get some benefit out of it. Why should be do it here, when no one knows him," she said.
But inquiries revealed that the chief minister had got a well-known local sculptor to cast a 20-feet statue of Periyar. "We have even prepared the clay model," sources close to the sculptor claimed.
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