Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why the fetish for statues, SC asks Maya govt

What About Teen Murti, Retorts BSP

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

New Delhi: In what could trip UP chief minister Mayawati’s plans to construct grandiose stone images of herself, BSP founder Kanshi Ram and Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, the Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the leader on a PIL alleging a massive waste of public money.
The Supreme Court has indicated that it might have some tough questions for the Mayawati government even as the BSP leader’s aide Satish Mishra, who also pleaded her case in court, hit back claiming that monuments and memorials to upper caste leaders, like Teen Murti, never seemed to generate the same outrage.
The BSP argued that the developmental work of the Mayawati government never attracted any attention while the monuments were selectively highlighted. The BSP’s accusation of a political agenda and bias did not deter the SC from asking for some responses while it explained that it was not passing any sort of interim order.
With the PIL arguing that public funds could be better utilised to help UP’s poor, the SC seemed to pose a “why the fetish for your own statues” query to the Mayawati government with a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Ganguly quoting from the petition filed by advocates Ravi Kant and Sukumar. The PIL alleges that spending over Rs 1,200 crore on statues was irresponsible when UP had the largest population — 59 million — of people below the poverty line.
Appearing for the state, Mishra tried to convince the Bench that the PIL was politically motivated. He even objected to a large portion of the petitioner’s allegations being quoted in the order.


5.5 lakh metric tonnes of pink and red sandstone being ferried from Rajasthan and Mirzapur to Lucknow
46 statues of Mayawati, Kanshi Ram and other Dalit leaders to be built, also 60 elephants in chunar stone
Memorials to cover some 413 acres of prime land in Lucknow
Construction in Lucknow alone to cost Rs 2,681cr , plus Rs 270cr in maintenance
‘Questions raised only in case of Dalit memorials’
New Delhi: BSP leader Mayawati’s aide Satish Mishra, who pleaded the UP CM’s case in court, said memorials for other leaders seldom raised an eyebrow, except when they were meant for a Dalit icon. He sought to buttress his argument by citing the example of the sprawling Teen Murti Bhawan in Delhi, which is a memorial for the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
“We would like the court also to focus on larger issues like Teen Murti Bhawan which at present would be worth more than Rs 3,000 crore. It hurts when no one questions such memorials. But, if a memorial for Dr Ambedkar is built, then objections are raised,” he said after the court issued notices. Earlier, senior advocate U U Lalit said the PIL petitioners had no connection with UP and that all the expenditure on the statues and renovation of parks had been duly sanctioned by the assembly and that nothing was being done without proper sanction.
When the court said it has not issued any interim order but was merely seeking response of the state government, Mishra said: “We will bring all the larger issues before the court and it should deal with them.” Given the tone of arguments, Mayawati government is sure to list out the number of memorials for upper caste leaders and draw a contrast with the smaller numbers dedicated to Dalit leaders.

Petition challenges UP Govt stand on statues in SC
Updated on Monday, August 24, 2009, 19:09 IST Tags:Uttar Pradesh, statue erection, Kanshi Ram, Mayawati
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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh government's stand that statues of Chief Minister Mayawati was installed to fulfil the wishes of her mentor Kanshi Ram was on Monday opposed in the Supreme Court on the ground that tax payers money cannot be used for implementing the wish of a private person.

"They (state government) are implementing the will of a private person. They have said it in the affidavit. Can tax payers money be used for fulfiling the Will of a private party?" the advocates, who have filed the PIL on the issue, contended before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan.

The advocates said Rs 5000 crore of public money cannot be allowed to be misused for glorifying Mayawati. They said that during the pendency of the petition two more statues of the BSP supremo had been installed in a park in Noida, adjoining Delhi.

The affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh government has said Mayawati's statues were installed only to fulfil the wishes of Kanshi Ram who willed that wherever his statues were installed, the statues of Mayawati, "his only heir, must also be installed."

Senior advocates Harish Salve and S C Mishra, appearing for the state government, said the PIL was not maintainable and the budgetary allocation for the projects were made after discussion in the Assembly.

"The House had passed the resolution. There is no violation of law," they said.

The PIL filed by advocates Ravi Kant and Sukumar has accused Uttar Pradesh government of misusing public funds for the installation of statues of Mayawati, Kanshi Ram, other Dalit leaders and that of elephants-- BSP's election symbol-- at parks in Lucknow and Noida.

Responding to the notice issued to it, the state government has in an affidavit said it is a wrong notion that only statues of dead persons can be installed.

The state government expressed dismay over the manner in which the hype is being created over installation of statues of Mayawati and quoted examples of superstar Amitabh Bachchan and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee whose statues were erected.

"It is a wrong notion that only statues of dead persons can be installed. There is no dearth of examples, whether in the country or abroad, about statues of living persons. In the Indian context, one can easily refer to A B Vajpayee Institute of Technology and Management, Gwalior, and Amitabh Bachchan Institute at Saifai, Etawah," the state government said in an affidavit.