In her affidavit to the Supreme Court regarding the statues of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders and of herself built across Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said that they were built in public interest as a symbol of Dalit women’s struggle. Months after the Supreme Court had asked Mayawati to give back Rs 2000 crore used in building the statues, Mayawati said that the structures were made after proper discussion in Assembly and after proper budget allocation.
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 example of Dalit women’s struggle along with those of Kanshiram,” reported India Today. She further said that other political parties have done the same too by erecting the statues of their political leaders. She further termed the PIL in court to be politically motivated.
Mayawati has also argued, “Elephants don’t only represent BSP. They are an architectural symbol used in Indian traditional architecture.”
What happened earlier?
The Supreme Court on February 8, Friday said that BSP leader Mayawati, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh between 2007- 2012 should reimburse the money for installing statues during her tenure. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi prima facie said, “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 bench’s view came while hearing a petition filed by an advocate. In the plea, the petitioner had advocated that the public money cannot be used for constructing personal and party symbol statues for propagating the political party.
Supreme Court says prima facie BSP leader Mayawati has to pay back all the public money spent on statues while hearing a plea seeking direction to restrain her from spending public money on building statues. CJI Ranjan Gogoi says it would hear the plea on April 2. (file pic) pic.twitter.com/I6vWjTujfR
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) February 8, 2019
Several statues made
During her term, Mayawati’s government had built multiple Dalit memorials, including statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and BSP’s party symbol which is an ‘elephant’. According to The Indian Express, Over Rs 2,600 crore of the exchequer was spent to build memorials and statues in Lucknow, Noida, and a few other places in the state.
The bench also comprising of justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna made it clear that it is the tentative view of the court and posted the matter for final hearing on April 2.
According to a complaint from the vigilance department, the state had suffered losses of close to Rs 111 crore because of such constructions, reported The Indian Express. Following which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to investigate the matter. Earlier, on January 31, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided at six locations across Uttar Pradesh in connection with the Rs 1,400 crore memorial scam which happened during BSP chief Mayawati’s tenure.
In the memorial scam, former ministers Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha, along with as many as 197 others, were indicted by the UP Lokayukta for ‘wrong-doings’ in purchasing sandstone in Lucknow and Noida for Dalit memorials during 2007 to 2012, which was Mayawati’s regime.
The Logical Indian Take
Politicians building statues for themselves and for the benefit of their party is not new but if the Supreme Court’s final judgment asks to payback the money, it will be a welcome judgment. A state like Uttar Pradesh which doesn’t have basic necessities like education, water, healthcare and infrastructure, spent Rs 2600 crore to build statues. It shouldn’t be to the whim of the politicians to build statues to fulfil their egos and they should be fined if they do so.