Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati didn’t do well in the Lok Sabha elections but she is busy ensuring her presence felt in her state--with lavish memorials of Dalit icons.
As many as 15 memorials, including one of herself, were inaugurated in Lucknow on Thursday. The inaugurations were hurried to avoid any Supreme Court order on a PIL filed by a lawyer against the alleged misuse of funds on the memorials.
Mayawati justifies the memorials. "It's because of the wish of (BSP founder) late Kanshi Ram who had desired that a statue of his political successor should be installed beside his," said Mayawati.
According to the Lucknow Development Authority, the statues of Mayawati and Kanshi Ram at various places in Lucknow cost a whopping Rs 6.68 crore.
The marble elephants at Ambedkar Memorial cost Rs 52 crore. An amount of Rs 90 crore was allocated for the beautification of Kanshi Ram Park.
The 2009-2010 budget of the UP culture department shows that in 2008- 2009 it allocated more than Rs 194 crore for the construction of statues of great leaders and the entire amount was spent.
Mayawati rejects allegations of misusing public money. "To malign my image, my opponents have launched a vicious campaign against me. They accuse me of misusing public money for constructing parks, museums, and memorials dedicated to Dalits," she said.
The Samajwadi Party, the state’s main Opposition party, held demonstrations on Friday to protest against the memorials. Party leader Akhilesh Yadav alleged Mayawati had spent Rs 10,000 crore on statues and memorials.
In Delhi, Congress leader Digvijay Singh demanded an probe into the memorial constructions. "Money of people is being wasted. People will not forgive her (Mayawati). She has seen the result in Lok Sabha elections earlier. The BSP will be finished in 2012," said Singh.