'EC diktat of veiling statues shows casteist bias of UPA'
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati claimed that while the Election Commission acted on the complaints made by the Congress and BJP, it did not pay any heed to objections raised by the Bahujan Samaj Party. Sharat Pradhan reports.
Making a frontal attack on the Election Commission, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Sunday termed its diktat on veiling of her statues and that of elephants as a reflection of the dominating influence of a casteist Congress-leg United Progressive Alliance government.
Mayawati was addressing an unusually low-key celebration on the occasion of her 56th birthday at the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party state headquarter where she also proclaimed that she was all set to bounce back to power.
While maintaining that the celebration had deliberately been scaled down in view of the enforcement of the model code of conduct, she said, "We believe in respecting the model code of conduct, but it is really lamentable that the chief election commissioner has very readily acted on the complaints made by the Congress and other opposition parties against us without even caring to pay any heed to our objections."
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Image: Workers cover elephant statues at a park in Noida
'Decision to veil statues disrespectful to social reformer Kanshi Ram'
Mayawati, however, went on to term the EC decision as a "blessing in disguise" and claimed that it would eventually prove to be a boon to her party. Reciting a popular Hindi saying to buttress her point, she quipped, "Khula haati lakh ka to bandh haathi sawa lakh ka" (if open elephant is worth a lakh rupees, the covered elephant will be worth a lakh and twenty five thousand).
Citing another example of EC's alleged bias against her party, the UP chief minister said, "Among the first few controversial decisions of the Election Commission was the removal of two senior officers in my government who belonged to the dalit community." The obvious reference was to the marching orders given by the Election Commission to state's Principal Home Secretary Kunwar Fateh Bahadur and Director General of Police Brij Lal.
She said, "My own statues were installed only in fulfillment of the wishes of our party founder Kanshi Ram and EC's decision to put them under a veil at this juncture amounts to showing utter disrespect to a great social reformer like Kanshi Ram."
She went on to add, "The fact that the Election Commission has not ordered covering of statues of leaders and icons of any other political party shows that the decision was least objective and not without bias."
Taking strong exception to the covering of hundreds of elephant statues that dot every park and memorial erected by her at a cost of around Rs 7,000 crore in Lucknow and in Noida, Mayawati remarked, "I am surprised that EC refused to listen to our plea that the elephants carved out in the parks and memorials built by me were distinct from the BSP symbol." She said, "Unlike the elephant in the party symbol where its trunk was down, all elephants in our parks and memorials have their trunks up, which reflects a sign of welcome in Indian tradition."
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Image: Statue of Mayawati and BSP party founder Kanshi Ram
'EC's decision going to be counter productive'
What seemed to irk the UP chief minister the most, she pointed out, was the fact that the Election Commission did not take any note of similar objections raised by her party against Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party symbols. "The Election Commission chose to completely ignore our plea that the Congress symbol –- hand –- was also widely visible in Hindu temples, where many deities are shown with a raised hand. Likewise, the lotus –- the symbol of the BJP -- was also widely in use in all Hindu prayers, whether in homes, public places or temples," observed the BSP supremo.
Further citing an example, she said, "I would like to know what the Election Commission has done to remove or cover a 45-feet giant hand put up in a public park in Punjab."
All these issues have been raised in a letter sent by her party general secretary Satish Chandra Misra to the Election Commission.
Even as she was critical of the decision, she sought to cock a snook at the Election Commission by claiming, "Let me tell you that at the end of the day the decision is going to be counter productive to EC, while giving our party a big boost."
She declared sarcastically, "let me tell you that the Election Commission's order has given us huge publicity; in fact, I would like to thank the chief election commissioner for saving us the crores that we would have had to spend for so much projection."
She went on to add, "How can I forget to thank the media for focusing so much on us by way of highlighting the election commission's move."
According to her, "The decision of the chief election commissioner has unwittingly gone a long way in further energising the party rank and file to pave way for BSP's return to power with a bang."
Image: UP Chief Minister Mayawati