Lucknow/New Delhi: Over 200 statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) symbol of the elephant are being draped in 1.5 km of pink polythene in Lucknow and Noida on Tuesday at a total cost of Rs 1 crore to meet the Election Commission's deadline of January 11.
Pink is the neutral hue chosen for the exercise as it does not represent any party's official colour. Workers were seen heaving yards of pink polythene on to iron scaffolding at the Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal at Gomti Nagar in Lucknow and the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida as per the directives of the EC.
In Lucknow, nine statues of Mayawati and 156 statues of elephants have to be covered while in Noida two statues of Mayawati and 52 elephants have to be draped.
Authorities have also undertaken the daunting task of covering up innumerable elephant-shaped door handles, elephant fountains, Mayawati pillars and chakras in the state.
"At around 11 AM, a team of workers reached the Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal at Gomti Nagar in Lucknow and started erecting an iron structure around a statue of elephant which will be used to put the cover," officials said.
Reports from Noida said that statues of BSP symbol and party Chief were being draped at the Dalit Prerna Sthal. The site, built at a cost of Rs 685 crore, has 30 elephant statues made of stone and 22 elephant statues made of bronze. Beside this, it is home to two statues of Mayawati.
Mayawati's statues will be covered with cloth. In Greater Noida, statues of the CM and the elephants were draped in two parks in Badalpur village and Gautam Buddha University, a senior officer said.
In all 36 statues of elephant and two of CM have been covered in Greater Noida, District Magistrate Gautam Buddha Nagar Hridesh Kumar had said.
"By January 11 at 5 PM all statues will be covered," Kumar said.
The Election Commission had directed the District Election Officers of two districts to cover statues of the UP CM and elephants at various parks and memorials by January 11. Meanwhile, a PIL challenging the EC's order to cover the statues of Mayawati and BSP's election symbol elephant was filed in the Allahabad High Court on Monday.
The PIL contended that the elephant represented venerable Hindu deity Lord Ganesha and draping its statues could hurt religious sentiments.
Incidentally, pink is reportedly Mayawati's favourite colour. She wears pink clothes during important occasions and her birthday cakes mostly come with pink icing. The elephant statues at the park are also of pink colour. (With additional information from PTI)