Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 2
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court the construction of life-size statues of herself and her party’s election symbol—elephant—in various parks in Uttar Pradesh.
It an affidavit filed in the court, she said public money was spent in accordance with the law. She said the statues represented the “will of the people” and that there was nothing new about it.
“Funds for construction of the said memorials and installation of statues have been sanctioned through budgetary allocation after approval of the budget by the State Legislature and the passing of relevant Appropriation Act by the State Legislature in accordance with the Constitution of India and Rules,” the BSP chief said.
“All the expenditure incurred for construction of Memorials and installation of the statutes forms part of the Appropriation Avt passed by the UP State Legislative Assembly after discussion and voting by the Members of the Legislative Assembly,” the affidavit read.
The Supreme Court had on February 8 said Mayawati had expressed its “tentative view” that she needed to refund to the state exchequer the public money spent on her statues party’s symbol elephant at various parks in Lucknow and Noida. While hearing a 10-year-old petition by advocate Ravi Kant, the top court had asked her to file an affidavit.
Contending that public money could not be spent on creating own statues and symbol of one’s political party, petitioner Ravi Kant alleged that crores of rupees was spent during 2008-09 to glorify then chief minister Mayawati. He has also demanded a CBI probe into the matter.
On Tuesday, she said the memorials and statues of herself and other leaders were “intended to promote values and ideals of various saints, gurus, social reformers and leaders among the public and not intended to promote the symbol of BSP or to glorify” herself.
She said: “I decided to dedicate my entire life for upliftment of the downtrodden society and for achieving this I also took a decision to remain unmarried”.
Mayawati said in her affidavit that her statues came into being “as the will of the state legislature to represent the will of the people”. She sought dismissal of the petition terming it “politically motivated and a gross abuse of process of court of law”.
Maintaining that construction of memorials and installation of statues in India was not a new phenomenon, she pointed out: “During the Congress regime, the agencies of the Central Government and the State Government have installed statues of various Congress leaders namely, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao etc. across the country with public funds”. She added that other political parties in power at the Centre and states had also done this.
The former UP Chief Minister specifically mentioned the 182 meter tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel—the Statue of Unity—by the BJP government in Gujarat, 25-feet statue of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee in Lucknow by the state government, and former Andhra Pradesh CM YS Rajsekhara Reddy’s statue by then Congress Government of the state.
“The Memorials, Sthals and Parks have been constructed by the State Government in the memory of social reformers and their statues have been installed to pay tributes to them. The memorials have been developed for the public to draw inspiration from the lives of great personalities of social reformers and leaders who devoted their lives for the upliftment of dalit, poor, oppressed and downtrodden sections of the society,” she submitted.
“These memorials are intended to promote the values of ideals of various Saints, Gurus and social reformers and leaders among the public and not intended to promote the symbol of BSP or to glorify the answering respondent (Mayawati),” the affidavit states.
Denying that statues of elephants were installed to promote BSP’s election symbols, Mayawati said “elephants standing in welcome posture” is part of Indian culture and the Election Commission has already decided the issue.
The EC had on January 7, 2012, ordered that statues of Mayawati and elephants be covered during the state Assembly election.
The top court had issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and Mayawati on May 29, 2009, on the PIL that highlighted the issue of misuse of public money for installing her statues and party’s symbol at parks in Lucknow and Noida.
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