People’s will to install statues worth crores of rupees, Mayawati tells Supreme Court

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samajwadi Party supremo Mayawati on Tuesday justified her life-size statues built in Uttar Pradesh with crores of public money spent over it during her tenure as the Chief Minister of the state, telling the Supreme Court they represent the “will of the people”.

Mayawati has filed an affidavit in the Apex Court saying her statues built across Uttar Pradesh and those of other BSP leaders were built in public interest as a symbol of Dalit people’s struggle.

She had filed the affidavit in compliance with the last order of the Supreme Court stating that prima facie, it seems that Mayawati needs to pay back the money spent on erecting statues of herself and the party symbol, the elephant, in public places in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow and Noida.

Presently, the Supreme court is hearing a PIL filed in 2009 by an advocate alleging that the Mayawati government had used Rs 2,000 crore public money to build her statues and BSP’s symbols. The petitioner argued that state budgets cannot be used to the propagate agenda of any political party.

In February, the Apex court bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said he was of the tentative view that Mayawati has to reimburse all the public money used in installing the statues to the taxpayers. But he stopped short of passing an order to hear what Mayawati had to say.

“We are of the tentative view that Mayawati has to deposit the public money spent on statues of herself and party symbol to the state exchequer,”

the top court had observed.

During the February hearing, the court had also noted the petitioner’s claim that the cost on the installation of 60 elephant statues was Rs 52.20 crore which was not only wastage of public money but also contrary to the circulars issued by the Election Commission.

Mayawati’s Response

In response, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief has said in her affidavit that the statues were erected after proper discussions and procedures in the state assembly, after proper budget allocation.

“How could I defy the will of the state legislature,”

she argued.

“Proper budgetary allocation was made for the statues when I was the Chief Minister of UP,” said the Dalit leader.

Mayawati has also said, “Statues represent the will of the people as expressed by the decision of elected representatives. Assembly legislators wanted to put up statues of Mayawati as an example of Dalit women’s struggle along with those of Kanshiram.”

She further added, “The memorial and parks built in honour of great leaders belonging to “oppressed” Dalit community and OBCs are tourist attraction of Uttar Pradesh, and gives regular income to the government.”

“Other political parties have also erected statues of political leaders. It’s a means to show admiration and support,” argued Mayawati in the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Why question only Dalit leaders’ statues and not the ones erected by the Congress and the BJP using public money,” questioned the 63-year-old former CM, referring to statues of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivaji, NT Rama Rao and Jayalalithaa.

On the petition accusing her of glorifying herself, Mayawati said with the statues, the state legislature had shown respect to a Dalit woman leader saying that the memorials were constructed so people would draw inspiration from them.

She also claimed that Elephants symbols don’t only represent BSP.

“The statues of elephants in the memorials were “mere architectural design in Indian traditional architecture” and not representative of her party’s symbol”, she said.

She has also said that the PIL filed by the advocate is politically motivated and “serves no public purpose to raise the statues’ issue”.

The BSP supremo, who had recently tied with former rival Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party to contest in the Lok Sabha elections, had also requested the media not to distort oral observation of the top court, adding media and BJP leaders should stop kite flying.

“Humble request to media please don’t distort oral observation of Hon’ble court. Sure to get justice in this matter also. Media and BJP leaders please stop kite flying,” she had tweeted.

She has also quoted that the court cannot decide where the money could be used.

Whether the money should have been spent on education or hospitals “is a debatable question and can’t be decided by a court,” Mayawati said in her affidavit before the Supreme Court.

It’s now the Apex Court to decide whether it was really people’s wish to spent crores for installing statues of politicians or they had wished to more hospitals and infrastructure?

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