Lucknow/Noida: With little over a day left for the deadline to expire, government officials were on Tuesday busy covering up statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and of elephants, the ruling BSP`s symbol, in Noida and Lucknow to comply with the Election Commission’s order.
Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi in his directive had instructed that all the statues must be covered by 5 pm Wednesday (January 11).
The Lucknow park has nine Mayawatis and 25 elephants while the one in Noida boasts of two Mayawatis and 52 elephants. Considering the enormity of the task, officials are scrambling to get the work done before the deadline ends.
It’s not just the big elephants that are a cause of worry; there are hundreds of small elephants across the two parks which also have to be covered.
Considering the ‘colour ban’ – material of any party colour can’t be used - pink has emerged as the colour of choice for the jumbo operation. While it is pink plastic sheets for the elephants, it is pink cloth for Behenji.
Although the work had begun yesterday itself but owing to confusion over who would take charge of the operation, crucial hours were lost leading to the race against time today.
In Lucknow the responsibility has been given to Lucknow Development Authority while in Noida the Noida Authority is carrying out the work with help from UP Rajkiya Nagar Nigam.
The unusual order has sparked a debate across Uttar Pradesh, which will go to polls over seven phases in February.
While opposition parties are thrilled over the Election Commission conceding their demand, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party has taken strong exception to the EC move.
"This is the right step. After all, Mayawati`s statues are all over the place together with those of elephants in the several parks and memorials created by her with government funds worth thousands of crores. How can those be kept open when we are not even allowed to put up posters or banners," said Samajwadi Party leader Shiv Pal Yadav.
BSP spokesperson Swami Prasad Maurya countered him by labelling the poll panel`s move as unfair.
"If elephants have to be wrapped up because elephant is also the BSP symbol and the Election Commission thinks the statues can influence voters, then why don`t they cover every lotus growing in ponds and not allow any individual on the street to raise his hand," he said, referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party`s symbol of the lotus and the Congress` hand symbol.
Some political analysts were of the view that the move could prove counter-productive and ultimately help Mayawati consolidate her Dalit vote bank.