In what comes as a huge setback for BSP Supremo Mayawati, the Supreme Court of India has directed her to reimburse the money used for erecting statues of herself and, BSP’s symbol during her tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
During her tenure, Mayawati made huge spending on the construction of grandiose statues of elephants in Lucknow, Noida and few other places in the state. As if this was not enough, she erected her own statues and positioned herself as the ‘Messiah of Dalits’. In Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden, statues of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram, and Mayawati were built. As per reports, the park and statues in Noida cost around 685 crore rupees to the public exchequer.
Overall, the construction of parks, statues, and memorials cost around 2,600 crore rupees to the state’s exchequer. “We are of the tentative view that Mayawati has to deposit the public money spent on her statues and party symbol to the state exchequer,” said, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The bench comprised justices, Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna. The final hearing of the case will be on April 2. However, the bench further added, “We will have it for final disposal on April 2.”
The project had to be stalled as it was mired in various irregularities including an alleged corruption of 111 crore rupees which is currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. Earlier, during the time of construction of the park, the apex court ordered to stop the work as it was not “eco-friendly” due to its proximity with Okla bird sanctuary.
‘Miracle of Democracy’, these words were used by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to describe the rise of Mayawati in Indian politics. The story of a Dalit girl from a modest family background beating the odds to become the Chief Minister of India’s most populous and arguably, politically the most important state in India was indeed a miracle. However, the story of Mayawati is also a story of contradictions, compromises, and control. She used public money to build her own statues and positioned herself as ‘Dalit icon’.
For those unaware, Mayawati had indulged on a statue building spree ever since she became the CM of UP in 2007. Instead of being known for any administrative prowess or her able work towards public welfare, Mayawati squandered millions of public money on statues and buildings in the name of herself, BSP founder Kanshiram and BR Ambedkar. It was on this statue building spree that a vigilant citizen cum lawyer Ravi Kant filed a PIL against the same in 2009.
According to the PIL, spending over Rs 1,200 crore on statues was completely unjustified when UP has more than 50 million people below the poverty line, besides one of the lowest literacy rates in the country. Ravi Kant also pointed out that these permanent structures also violated the model code of conduct which restrained such displays during the time of either assembly or general elections.
The vigilance FIR was filed in 2013 after the UP Lokayukta complained that the statue building spree had cost the state around Rs. 1400 crores. Despite the efforts of the then Mayawati government, the matter reached the Supreme Court, and now Mayawati has been given time until April to reimburse the dues.