New Delhi: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has justified in the Supreme Court the installation of her statues across many cities in the state, saying it represented the “will of the people.”
Ms Mayawati has filed her affidavit in response to an observation made by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that she should be asked to pay up for using public money spent on installation of her own statues and of elephants, the BSP’s party symbol
In her affidavit Ms Mayawati said that when she was the CM, the state legislature sought to pay tribute to her for her tireless work for the welfare of Dalits by getting her statues installed. “The will of the people was expressed by the state legislature with a proposal to install the statues of the answering respondent at the memorials to show respect to the contemporary woman Dalit leader who has decided to sacrifice her life for the cause of the underprivileged communities,” said the affidavit.
She said that the apex court itself had ruled that the expenditure approved by the state legislature may be unwise but it could not be adjudicated by the courts and should only be debated in the legislature. She urged the court not to adjudicate on the issue of statues.
She said construction of elephant statues in memorials had nothing to do with her party symbol and it is a mere coincidence. It is incorrect and misleading to correlate the statues of elephants installed at the memorials with the symbol of the BSP.
The elephants standing in the welcome posture are inalienable part of the Indian culture and no parallel can be drawn betw-een the elephants and the party symbol. She pointed out that elephant statues adorn the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, temples and are regarded as a welcome symbol in mythology.
She said, “Certainly, I could not go contrary to the wishes of the state legislators in installing my statues near the statue of Shri Kanshi Ram, for whom the nation has raised the demand for conferring Bharat Ratna posthumously.”
Describing the PIL questioning the installation of statues, she said it was a politically motivated petition and said that the petition was a result of disgruntlement against the respect being shown to a Dalit woman leader.
She pointed out that there was a budgetary allocation made and an Appropriation Act passed to take out the money for construction of the memorials and the statues. According to Mayawati’s affidavit, these memorials served as source of inspiration for the people. Mayawati also cited similar exercise carried out by Congress, BJP and other political parties in erecting statues of their leaders at the expense of public money.
She referred to statues of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat, statues of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, apart from clearance of proposals to install statues of Lord Ram in Ayodhya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statue at Lok Bhavan in Lucknow.
On February 8, a Bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi made a “tentative” observation that Mayawati may have to pay for the statues. The Bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocates Ravi Kant and Sukumaran in 2009 questioning the then decision of Ms. Mayawati to erect statues for her and also the construction of elephant statues in the memorials.
The petitioners argued that the policy of putting up of Statues is being done in the grab of making statues of great leaders and Dalit leaders but on close examination of the built up parks it can bee seen that it is being made only for the glorification of the Chief Minister, Mayawati.
In a democratic system such policy in which crores of public funds are being utilized need a discussion and unanimity of all political parties but the same have been ignored. The government is hand in gloves with the Chief Minister to glorify her by acquiring huge space of Public Land and building parks and then putting the Chief Minister and her mentor at the Central point. This amounts to grab of public land.