VOTE BANK POL­I­TICS

Is­sues over Mayawati’s memo­ri­als ap­ply to oth­ers

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

It has taken some time com­ing, but fi­nally it has. The Supreme Court has taken cog­ni­sance of BSP chief Mayawati’s prof­li­gate ways. It asked her to re­turn funds used for build­ing parks and stat­ues when she was Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter be­tween 2007 and 2012. The BSP leader has coun­tered that these memo­ri­als were con­structed to hon­our tow­er­ing Dalit per­son­al­i­ties. The case, which has come up thanks to a pe­ti­tion filed by an ad­vo­cate in 2009, has sought to re­strain the state and the BSP from misusing pub­lic funds for po­lit­i­cal gains. Party lead­ers have been at pains to de­fend the use of ele­phants, BSP’S poll sym­bol, in parks and memo­ri­als. What­ever the out­come of this par­tic­u­lar case, surely there has to be some ac­count­abil­ity over the me­mo­rial con­struc­tion drive, which has come to pos­sess politi­cians in this coun­try. Pre­cious pub­lic money can­not be spent on build­ing memo­ri­als to politi­cians and icons, who in their own life­times re­vealed no de­sire to be re­mem­bered thus. Mum­bai has been in the throes of a rag­ing de­bate about pro­posed mega stat­ues of Bal Thack­eray, a gi­ant statue of Chat­tra­p­ati Shivaji in the Ara­bian Sea and even late BJP leader Gopinath Munde. In ad­di­tion, there is the de­mand for the con­struc­tion of a me­mo­rial for Babasa­heb Ambed­kar. Some ques­tions have also been raised over the mam­moth Statue of Unity in Gu­jarat. Just how patently po­lit­i­cal and vote gath­er­ing these moves are can be gauged from the fact that there are al­ready a plethora of pub­lic build­ings named af­ter these per­son­ages. No po­lit­i­cal party has thought worth its while to re­store Shivaji’s iconic forts along the Sahyadri moun­tain range and in the Ara­bian Sea. And de­spite all the lip ser­vice to Ambed­kar, there ex­ists no world class in­sti­tute named af­ter one of the great­est 20th cen­tury schol­ars and the father of the In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion.

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