Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court the construction of life-size statues of herself in Uttar Pradesh, saying they represent the “will of the people”.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, in an affidavit filed in the apex court, said the memorials and statues of herself and other leaders are “intended to promote values and ideals of various sants, gurus, social reformers and leaders among the public and not intended to promote the symbol of BSP or to glorify” her.
Mayawati said in her affidavit that her statues came into being “as the will of the state legislature to represent the will of the people”.
In an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court , in oral observations, had said Mayawati should reimburse the public money spent on erecting statues of herself and the party symbol, the elephant, in public places.
“Madam Mayawati, reimburse to the exchequer the public money you have spent on the elephants,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said.
“We are of tentative view that you (Mayawati) should pay the public money from your pocket,” CJI said.
The remarks were oral observations directed at senior advocate Rakesh Khanna, who was representing the leader in a 10-year-old public interest litigation (PIL) that alleged misuse of public money for installing the statues.
The SC was hearing advocate Ravi Kant’s PIL alleging misuse of crores of rupees of public money spent for installing the statues, including in a park in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi. Filed in 2009, the PIL sought a restraint order against the installations, which Kant said was being done at the cost of the state exchequer. He asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and also a directive to remove the statues.
Public money was spent to “falsely glorify” the then chief minister, Kant’s PIL alleged. Not only was it against the state policy, it even violated the Constitution, he said. The statues were installed at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places.