Thursday, January 12, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Statue-gate: Mayawati's party attacks Election Commission

Statue-gate: Mayawati's party attacks Election Commission

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: January 12, 2012 15:43 IST

Lucknow: A day after the Uttar Pradesh government complied with the
Election Commission's deadline to cover all statues of Chief Minister
Mayawati and her party's election symbol, the elephant, the Bahujan
Samaj Party has hit out at the poll panel saying the decision was
one-sided and had hurt the sentiments of the downtrodden.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, senior party
leader Satish Chandra Mishra questioned the commission's intention to
conduct free and fair elections in the state, which will see voting
over seven phases in February. He claimed that the decision was
unjustified and was a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The commission had not taken into account the statues and election
symbols of other parties, Mr Mishra pointed out and claimed that the
order was not in conformity with the law. He said that the Dalits and
backwards were feeling cheated due to the decision which was based on
representations from the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the
Bharatiya Janata Party.

The EC had on Saturday issued an order to cover all statues of
Mayawati and the BSP poll symbol at parks and memorials in Lucknow and
Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida) to ensure a level playing field. Fixing
January 11 as the deadline, the EC had asked the District Electoral
Officers-cum-district magistrates of the two places to send a
compliance report.

But Mr Mishra said, "The statues installed in parks and memorials are
in welcome position with upside trunk and the BSP symbol elephant has
down trunk, which did not violate model code of conduct.

The elephants, one installed in parks and memorials and the party
symbol do not have any similarity", he claimed, adding the statues of
the elephant are installed in a number of temples and government

He pointed out that elephants were engraved on the pillars at
Rashtrapati Bhawan, North Block and South Block and added that even
the Speaker's chair in Parliament had an elephant statue above it.

If the commission had an objection to the BSP's elephant, it should
also have acted against the SP's election symbol bicycle, the BJP's
lotus and the Rashtriya Lok Dal's handpump, Mr Mishra argued in the

After the EC's order, statues of elephants in Lucknow were veiled with
tarpaulin and cloth, while those of Ms Mayawati were covered by wooden
structures using plywood sheets at a number of places including Dr
Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, Samajik Parivartan Prateek
Sthal and Smriti Upvan.

In Noida, this exercise covered the Dalit Prerna Sthal which has 30
elephant statues made of stone and 22 elephant statues made of bronze
in addition to two statues of Ms Mayawati. Statues of the chief
minister and elephants in Greater Noida were also draped on Monday.

The EC order was welcomed by the opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh
but some had questioned the utility of such a move.

Justifying the decision, Mr Quraishi had told NDTV that this was being
done to ensure a level playing field since government property cannot
be used for political gain.

Pointing out that there was nothing unusual in the decision, he said
that those criticising the order were ill-informed.

(With inputs from PTI)

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