Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati in an affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court Tuesday stated that “it was the will of the people” that prompted her to build statues of herself and elephants, the symbol of her party, in Uttar Pradesh during her tenure as chief minister.
In her affidavit, Mayawati justified the expenses incurred in the installation of the statues and said, “Memorials are intended to promote values and ideals of social reformers and not to promote symbol of BSP.” She also clarified that the funds for the constructions were sanctioned through budgetary allocations and approval of state legislature.
The apex court on February 8 had observed that it was of the prima facie view that BSP chief Mayawati should reimburse public money that was spent on installing statues of herself and elephants, in Lucknow and Noida. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said it was a tentative view and the matter will hence be heard for a final hearing on April 2.
Between 2007 and 2012, the Mayawati government in the state had built multiple Dalit memorials, that include statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and BSP’s election symbol ‘elephant’. The memorials and statues were built at a cost of over Rs 2,600 crore in Lucknow, Noida, and a few other places in the state. These remarks were made by the bench hearing the petition, filed by an advocate, in February. The petitioner had argued that public money cannot be utilised for building own statues and for propagating a political party.
A complaint from the vigilance department had alleged a “memorial scam” and said that the state had suffered losses close to Rs 111 crore due to such constructions. Acting on the complaint, the ED filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to probe the matter.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)