“Elephant statues erected in memorials for Dalit icons have nothing to do with BSP symbol”

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Monday attributed the move to freeze her Bahujan Samaj Party's election symbol to what she called a conspiracy backed by the Opposition parties. She rejected the suggestion that the elephant statues erected in parks and memorials for Dalit icons had anything to do with the symbol.

In the statues, the elephants were shown in ‘swagat mudra' (welcome posture) with their snouts up, whereas the BSP's symbol shows the elephant with its snout down, Ms. Mayawati said. She was addressing a rally organised here to mark the 25th anniversary of the BSP's formation and the birth anniversary of its founder Kanshi Ram.

The BSP has to submit on March 18 its reply to a petition filed against the elephant statues with the Election Commission.

If the elephant statues could be brought to the Commission's notice since the jumbo is the BSP's symbol, the Commission should take note of the Congress' symbol of ‘hand' and the Samajwadi Party's ‘cycle,' she said.

Cycles were being distributed to girls under the Savitribai Phule Scheme launched by the BSP government, and the hand was used by leaders of all parties to welcome people. “In that case, the hand and cycle symbols should be de-registered.”

No law

Ms. Mayawati also justified the erection of her own statues. “Is there any law in the country that bans the erection of statues of living leaders, and can funds be spent only on erecting statues of dead leaders and not the living ones?” The statues of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were erected throughout the country by the Congress; several schemes, colleges, universities, airports, railway stations and roads that used government funds were named after them. In 63 years since Independence, she said, crores had been spent on building memorials and museums for the Gandhi-Nehru family. However, when statues of and memorials to Kanshi Ram and other Dalit icons were built, the Opposition charged the BSP government with misusing government funds.

‘Congress anti-Dalit'

Ms. Mayawati termed the Congress anti-Dalit, arguing that it supported the caste system. She blamed the Congress regimes for corruption in Uttar Pradesh and accused the United Progressive Alliance government of stalling the State's development by not releasing Central funds. The BSP, she said, had achieved much more in the 25 years of its existence than what the 125-year-old Congress gained in the first 21 years of its formation.

The BSP rally was one of the biggest seen in recent years in Lucknow with the party workers present from all parts of the country.

Opposing the Women's Reservation Bill in its present form, Ms. Mayawati said her party would stage dharnas in the district headquarters on April 14.

She also warned of a nationwide agitation if the Centre did not bring the prices down.