‘Bad publicity is good publicity.’
This famous quote by American business magnate Donald Trump fits in the case of BSP supremo Mayawati, who has managed to garner full public attention ahead of the upcoming UP polls thanks to the Election Commission of India.
The Election Commission issued a strange order last week which raised several eyebrows. It ordered the covering of all the statues of Mayawati and BSP’s poll symbol ‘elephant’ across the state till the elections in the state are over.
“The statues were built on government land with government’s expenditure. So no political party has the right to use them as vehicle of publicity,” the CEC said. He added, “In election, publicity should be done with the expenditure of political parties, not with the government’s expenditure.”
The reason given was that it would create a level-playing field for all political parties, giving no undue advantage to anyone specific.
The diktat by the esteemed constitutional body has come as a surprise and evoked certain comical responses from almost all quarters of political strata. Some political parties said that the directive is impractical, one-sided and against natural justice.
CPI national secretary D Raja said, “It appears irrational and the EC should have thought of all aspects in-depth before taking this action relating to symbols to political parties. You have live elephants, how will you cover them. There are symbols like hand pumps. Are you going to cover all these?”
The above statement by the CPI leader is full of pun. Can someone from the Election Commission please explain how such an order will help in conducting a free and fair election? Is it that one sees an elephant and he goes and votes for the BSP? If this holds true then probably the EC should ask everyone to cover their hands, because that would give huge undue advantage to Congress and pluck all the lotuses, what if BJP wins the election because of the number of lotuses in the country.
The EC has actually questioned the intellectual capacity of Indian voter through this diktat. Will the electorate vote for BSP because there are elephant statues in UP or on the work that Madame Mayawati has done during her tenure?
On the other hand, Mayawati has simply refused to react to this. She is a veteran politician now and clearly knows this negative publicity will only help her cause. People will talk about her and remember her more because of this ‘Tughlaki’ diktat.
Mayawati has already wasted public money and destroyed greenery to build these gigantic parks with statues of hers, her loved ones and her elephants. What has been done is done. There is no point now in covering these statues other than the EC making a mockery of itself. The only good that might actually come out of it is that a few poor people will get jobs for some days to cover all these statues.
In fact, the political and bureaucratic class might also rejoice. They have a huge opportunity to orchestrate a ‘Statue Veiling Scam’ as around 1500 meters of cloth and an exchequer of Rs 1 crore would be required to cover up all of Mayawati’s concrete men and elephants, which could have been used for more useful purpose.
The men in-charge of this operation have already put their hands up in despair to undertake this jumbo job. It seems there is not enough sheet and cloth to cover all of Mayawati’s statues and jumbos, so now the EC will spend money to arrange for cover and will indirectly publicize BSP symbols.
The Election Commission should have spent its energy on other important jobs, like putting in place a strong security system for the elections. It should keep itself busy with more important matters rather than getting involved in such silly things. Covering a few statues and elephants of BSP is not an arduous task for the EC, considering the matter concerns UP elections. But will the EC repeat the same exercise when general elections are due?
Imagine the EC crisscrossing the entire country looking for any party symbol and covering it up. The sheer idea is outrageous.
As outrageous as the taxpayers’ money going down the drain!
(The views expressed by the author are personal)