Maya, Maya and more Maya
27 Jun 2009, 0255 hrs IST, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI LUCKNOW: UP chief minister Mayawati’s ambitious dream to see herself cast in stone in sprawling parks across the state appears to have
run into a stonewall. Encouraged by the public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court questioning the wastage of public funds by the narcissist chief minister to build her own statues and memorials, the opposition parties in UP on Friday joined hands to pull down the chief minister from her high pedestal. While Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav threatened to bulldoze all the structures once his party returns to power, Congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged of graft in the supply of stones for building the BSP leaders’ statues and memorials. The opposition’s onslaught against Ms Mayawati comes soon after the chief minister, in an obvious bid to pre-empt an adverse order by the Supreme Court on the PIL concerned, hurriedly unveiled 15 statues of herself and her mentor Kanshi Ram on Thursday night, almost nine days ahead of the original July 3 schedule. An incensed SP chief lashed out at the brazen move of the chief minister, telling reporters in Lucknow that he will run the bulldozer over all the statues and memorials erected by the Mayawati government the moment SP comes to power. “Bulldozers will be used somewhere,” he replied when asked whether he would demolish the structures if SP comes back to power. Charging the Mayawati regime with letting loose a reign of terror, he said, “a sense of insecurity has gripped the UP government, as it thinks its days are numbered.” Congress, which staged a major comeback in UP in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls by bagging 21 seats, was equally acerbic in its comments on Ms Mayawati’s obsession with setting up her own idols and memorials. In Delhi, Mr Singh demanded an inquiry into the whole episode, accusing her of “wasting public money.” “Money of people is being wasted. People will not forgive her. She has seen the result in Lok Sabha elections earlier... BSP will be finished in 2012,” Mr Singh told reporters. Ever since she came into power in UP two years ago, Ms Mayawati has unveiled several projects involving construction of memorials and statues of herself and other Dalit leaders. The cost involved runs into several thousand crores. Infact, thousands of priceless trees have been cut in Noida’s green belt to make way for a sprawling memorial. Mayawati’s statues are seen as an unaesthetic attempt to cast her in stone, complete with garish details like her trademark handbag. The lack of aesthetics apart, her “memorial” obsession has run into widespread criticism as it is seen as an assault on the public exchequer.
In a PIL filed in the Supreme Court, petitioners Sukumar and Ravi Kant had sought an urgent hearing so that the inaugural function for the memorials, slated for July 3, could be stopped. When the Supreme Court obliged by posting the hearing for June 29, the Mayawati government panicked. In an obvious haste to avoid an adverse order by the court, it decided to inaugurate the memorial and statues, even where construction was yet to be completed, on June 25 itself.