BSP supremo Mayawati Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court the construction of life-size statues of herself in Uttar Pradesh, saying they represent the “will of the people”. The statues were constructed when Mayawati was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2007 to 2012. The court is hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2009, which alleges that the Mayawati-led government had used Rs 2,000 crore public money to build statues of her and elephants, India Today reported.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, in an affidavit filed in the apex court, said the memorials and statues of herself and other leaders are “intended to promote values and ideals of various sants, gurus, social reformers and leaders among the public and not intended to promote the symbol of BSP or to glorify” her.
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 said funds for construction of the memorial and installation of statues were sanctioned through budgetary allocations after approval of the budget by the state legislature.
Mayawati also sought the dismissal of a plea, which alleged that pubic funds were misused in the construction of memorials and statues, saying it is politically motivated and a gross abuse of process of court of law.
On the petition accusing her of glorifying herself, Mayawati said with the statues, the state legislature had shown respect to a Dalit woman leader. “How could I defy the will of the state legislature,” she said.
Mayawati said the memorials were constructed so people would draw inspiration from them.
Mayawati also played Dalit card
“Why question only Dalit leaders’ statues and not the ones erected by the Congress and the BJP using public money,” the 63-year-old leader questioned, referring to statues of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivaji, NT Rama Rao and Jayalalithaa.
She also claimed that the statues of elephants in the memorials were “mere architectural design” and not representative of her party’s symbol.
During a hearing in February, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “Ms Mayawati, pay all the money back. We are of the view that Mayawati should reimburse all the money she spent.”
“We are of the tentative view that Mayawati has to deposit the public money spent on her statues and party symbol to the state exchequer,” the Supreme Court bench had said.
During the February hearing, the court had also noted the petitioner’s claim that the cost on 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.
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