- Statues reflected the UP legislature's respect for Dalit woman: Mayawati
- Statues of Mayawati are installed at parks in Lucknow and Noida
- SC is hearing a plea against the statues of Mayawati and elephants
Uttar Pradesh politician Mayawati on Tuesday justified her life-size statues built in Uttar Pradesh with crores in public money when she was Chief Minister, telling the Supreme Court they represent the "will of the people".
Whether the money should have been spent on education or hospitals "is a debatable question and can't be decided by a court," Mayawati said in her affidavit before the Supreme Court.
The top court is hearing a 2009 petition against the profusion of statues of Mayawati, her mentor Kanshi Ram and elephants - her party Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s symbol - built at parks in Lucknow and Noida with taxpayers' money when she was chief minister between 2007 and 2012. The statues of bronze, cement and marble had critics accusing her of self-obsession and megalomania.
In February, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said he was of the tentative view that the BSP chief has to reimburse the taxpayer all the money used in the statues. But he stopped short of passing an order to hear what Mayawati had to say.
On the petition accusing her of glorifying herself, Mayawati said with the statues, the state legislature had shown respect to a Dalit woman leader. "How could I defy the will of the state legislature," she said.
"Proper budgetary allocation was made for the statues when I was the Chief Minister of UP," said the politician.
Mayawati said the memorials were constructed so people would draw inspiration from them.
"Why question only Dalit leaders' statues and not the ones erected by the Congress and the BJP using public money," the 63-year-old leader questioned, referring to statues of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivaji, NT Rama Rao and Jayalalithaa.
She also claimed that the statues of elephants in the memorials were "mere architectural design" and not representative of her party's symbol.