Breaking her silence on the Election Commission's order to drape her statues and those of elephants, Bahujan Samaj Party president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Sunday termed the Commission's “one-sided” directive.
Ms. Mayawati was critical of the Commission's action of removing two Dalit officers (the former DGP, Brij Lal, and the former Principal Home Secretary, Kunwar Fateh Bahadur). The BSP cadres were convinced that the decision to clothe the statues was the outcome of an “anti-Dalit” and “casteist” mindset.
Ms. Mayawati chose the occasion of her 56th birthday celebrations at the BSP headquarters here to vent her ire on the Commission. She accused it of working under pressure from the Congress. Its “arbitrary” order was an insult to BSP founder Kanshi Ram, who had “willed that her statue will be installed along with that of his.”
On the order to cover the elephant statues, Ms. Mayawati said these were in “swagat mudra” (welcome posture) – the embodiment of Indian culture – and, “they had not been installed by her government in parks and memorials on account of the elephant being the poll symbol of the BSP.”
Ms. Mayawati gave enough indications that the issue would be a potent election issue and figure prominently in her poll speeches when she hits the campaign trail in February. “A new slogan, “khula haathi ek lakh ka aur band haathi sava lakh ka” (covered statues of elephants will prove more beneficial to the BSP in the polls) had been coined by angry party workers,” she said. They had redoubled their efforts to secure the party's victory, she noted.
Though the birthday celebrations were kept a low key affair on account of the Model Code of Conduct, the BSP headquarters was decked up for the occasion. The Chief Minister, dressed in a pink salwar suit and a camel coloured long coat, and sporting a diamond necklace and ear rings was meeting journalists for the first time since the announcement of polls.
“Apply same yardstick”
Ms. Mayawati mentioned about a park in Chandigarh, capital of another poll-bound State, Punjab, with a huge revolving “palm of hand” built from the Congress government's exchequer and hand pumps installed in villages in Uttar Pradesh. She said the Commission should apply the same constitutional yardstick and order covering of “palm of hand” and “hand pumps,” which were the poll symbols of the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The BSP chief also attacked Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi for sending his reply (to a letter from BSP general secretary, S.C. Mishra protesting the statue order) at 10.30 PM on Saturday, which “carried wrong facts.” She alleged that the CEC's letter was couched in warning and meant to pressure her. A counter-reply, based on correct facts, had been sent to the Election Commission.
The Hindi and English versions of the seventh volume of A Travelogue of My Struggle-Ridden Life and BSP Movement, Volume—7, penned by her and the list of all 403 BSP candidates for the coming polls were released by Ms. Mayawati.