UP polls: Mayawati's statues to be draped today after Election Commission's order

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Noida:  The Lucknow District Magistrate has said that the statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and that of her party's symbol, the elephant, will be veiled across the state on Monday. The Election Commission (EC) had, on Saturday, ordered the covering of statues.

The EC's order is part of the model code of conduct that is in place after dates for the upcoming assembly polls were announced in December last year. Elections in UP are slated to begin on February 4 and will, over seven phases, wrap up on February 28.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi had said that except for the Mahatma Gandhi, photos of all political leaders should be removed. "There must be level-playing ground. Partiality will lead to severe consequences," he had said.

However, one of the places where the covering of the statues was carried out today was the controversial Noida memorial park that was inaugurated by Ms Mayawati in October last year amid much fanfare. The park, estimated to have been built at a mind-boggling cost of around Rs. 685 crore, also drew much criticism from political parties across the spectrum which slammed the Dalit czarina for wasting crores of taxpayers' money in what they called as mindless extravaganza.

The memorial is meant to honour Dalit icons and has over two dozen huge statues of Mayawati, her mentor Kanshi Ram and Dr BR Ambedkar, among others.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's photograph on billboards across the country on the Golden Quadrilateral National Highway were covered by cloth in line with the poll panel's directive.

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