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Apex Court Directs Mayawati to Pay Money Back for Erecting Statues of Herself

Posted by Aditya Singh on February 12, 2019 | Comment


The issue of caste is ever-present in India, in the foreground of any discussion about the country’s politics and culture. Close behind it is the issue of gender in a country that has struggled to stem the number of attacks on women. Mayawati, who heads Bahujan Samaj Party and is a leading political voice among India’s lower caste communities, has championed both the issues fighting the stigmas prevalent in the Indian society.

 Mayawati was at the peak of her political career after the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha election. The BSP managed to cross the halfway mark on its own and formed the government. However, fortune soon turned for her. She was voted out of power in the next Vidhan Sabha election held in 2012. The worst was yet to come for the BSP supremo  Mayawati. Modi wave swept all the opposition parties in 2014. Her party could not win a single seat in the last Lok Sabha elections. Her career seemed to be over when her party won merely 19 seats in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections.

But Mayawati’s story was not over yet. It cannot be denied that the Bahujan Samaj Party is organizationally still present in each of the district of Uttar Pradesh. It is evident from the fact that although all BSP candidates lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but they were able to finish second in most of the seats in the state. Mayawati is back to redraw the battle lines after joining hands with her bhatija (nephew) Akhilesh. The alliance of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party seems strong and has unsettled the Bhartiya Janta Party for now.

A recent Supreme Court observation has jolted the BSP chief. A Supreme Court advocate Mr Ravi Kant filed a petition in the apex court in 2009 alleging that crores of public money were spent by the then Chief Minister, Mayawati, on these acts of party advertisement and self-promotion. Mr Kant has alleged that about ₹2,000 crore was used from the State Budget of 2008-09 and 2009-10 to falsely glorify the then Chief Minister. The petitioner has said the state government should be directed to remove the statues of Ms Mayawati and her party symbol ‘elephant’ from the public land.

The Supreme Court on Friday indicated its “tentative view” that Ms. Mayawati will have to pay back to the state exchequer the money she spent on erecting statues of herself and her party symbol ‘elephant’ in public parks across Lucknow and Noida. The Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and including Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna, posted the matter for hearing on April 2.

As soon as Friday’s hearing was over, the BJP launched a scathing attack on Ms. Mayawati. In response, the BSP supremo urged the media and the BJP not to “distort” the oral observation of the court. Mayawati defended herself saying that marvelous memorials and public parks were built to honor “ignored saints, gurus and great men born in deprived and oppressed Dalit and OBCs are a new grand identity and tourist attraction of Uttar Pradesh, which gives regular income to the public exchequer.

Mayawati is set to contest this Lok Sabha election with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in a strategically important Uttar Pradesh. The alliance has unsettled the BJP in the state. Both the parties will be contesting 38 seats each. Mayawati said that the alliance will rob Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of their sleep. The SP-BSP alliance comes exactly 25 years after the two parties joined hands to stop the BJP juggernaut at the height of the Ayodhya movement in 1993.