EC official says order to cover statues was issued to ensure a level-playing field

The Election Commission on Monday wondered why Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati was objecting to its order on draping of her statues and her party's poll symbol, the elephant, when the BJP and the Congress accepted similar directives issued during the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

While in 2004, a few weeks before the general elections, the Commission ordered removal/draping of portraits/photographs of the then Prime Minister and BJP leader, A..B. Vajpayee, put up on national highways throughout the country, in 2009, prior to the Lok Sabha poll on April 1, it issued orders for removal of photographs or pictures of the Prime Minister (Dr. Manmohan Singh), Chief Ministers, ministers and other political functionaries.

Either the BJP in 2004 or the Congress or other parties in 2009, affected due to the order issued to ensure “a level-playing field,” did not trade charges on the Commission as was being done by Ms. Mayawati now, said a senior EC official.

Even in 2009, the Commission had given a clear order stating that the underlying intention of the EC's instruction was that the photographs and images of the political functionaries, who had deep influence on the minds of electors, many of whom were still active in public life, and might even be contesting the current elections, should not be displayed in the government buildings and premises. The official cited the reason as having the effect of disturbing the level playing field vis-à-vis the political functionaries of other parties and candidates.

“Unfair and unjust”

It was unfair and unjust on the part of Ms. Mayawati to blame the Commission of being “biased and anti-Dalit” and the EC wanted to deny totally, the official added. The order was given to ensure a level-playing field and to hold a free, fair and transparent polls in Uttar Pradesh and there was nothing more into it, he said.

It was unfortunate that the BSP had brought the caste issue and levelled motives against the Commission for the decisions taken by it.

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