Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati’s fad for her own statues appears to be growing. Mayawati’s first statue was installed at the Prerna Bhawan, Lucknow that was the first of the series of memorials erected by her to mark the establishment of Dalit rule in the state. To justify her own statue, Mayawati had clearly told the audience, “I always felt that memorial should be built during the lifetime of icons, which is why I got the first statue of my mentor Kanshi Ram installed in Lucknow during his lifetime. But, because he wished that I should also have my own statue next to his, I decided to go ahead.” The same logic was repeated when she unveiled her second statue together with those of her political mentors Kanshi Ram and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar on the threshold of her dream project – the Rs 5 billion Ambedkar Park cum Memorial.
This time she has gone a step ahead and has spent over Rs 5,000 crores on statues of her party symbol – the elephant. This irresponsible step has faced opposition not just from Mulayam Singh Yadav, the people of Lucknow, but also from every nook and corner of the country. An RTI filed on this fetish for statues has caused the Supreme Court to ask Mayawati to give reasons in a month’s time.
Using 1000 crores of tax payers’ money to erect her own statues all over UP, when the state has the largest population [59 million] below the poverty line seems nonsensical. The amount could have been used to provide education, food and other basic amenities to the people of the state and wipe out poverty. What kind of a narcissist Dalit leader is she? But then, isn’t that the story of India as a whole? India still does not understand democracy and rushes to make their ‘King’ a God. Then, they set about installing their own statues with the money that could have been used to give their ‘subjects’ water, electricity and food. This is a country where milk and ghee are poured into fire by the leaders instead of feeding the starving children. It only paves way for other leaders to follow suit. What use is this glorification? It is a pity that our energies instead of being channelized into productive ways get siphoned off to waste.
However, people have never bothered when every nook and corner of this country has been bombarded with statues of Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. This has been Mayawati’s advocate’s stand. Why do people then have a problem now? Is that because she is a Dalit? This remark is not wrong. And it definitely needs to be thought about.
Given the tone and tenor of the arguments with the Supreme Court, the 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. A party official said that huge amounts were being spent by the Mayawati government for the upliftment of the poor, building schools and hospitals besides social upliftment schemes for oppressed class. “The media highlights only the memorials built to honour Dalit leaders and ignores the developmental work of the Mayawati government,” he said.