New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday announced that statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Bahujan Samaj Party poll symbol, the elephant dotted across the state would be draped till the assembly elections are over.
Addressing a press conference here, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said, “The Commission has decided that statues of the CM and elephants will be draped.”
“This would be implemented at the earliest as the matter was related to the model code of conduct,” he said.
Justifying its decision of covering the statues in Lucknow, Noida and other places the CEC said, "The idea is that no one should get political mileage. During elections even photos of leaders put up in offices are removed," the CEC said.
The CEC said, during polls, even calendars bearing names of political leaders are removed.
Quraishi also said that the EC wants to ensure “level playing field” in the upcoming state assembly elections.
A petitioner had approached the poll panel to seek "appropriate steps" to ensure a "level playing field" in the elections.
Several political parties had also demanded that the Election Commission should order removal of statues of elephants.
BSP in retaliation smacked a conspiracy theory in Election Commission’s decision. Reacting to the decision, a BSP leader said it is nothing but a political conspiracy.
Samajwadi Party;s Mohan Singh said Election Commission’s decision is good but it would have been better if all the statues be removed completely.
Welcoming the move, BJP leader Mukhatr Abbas Naqvi said that the money which was meant for development was used for statues and it is good that such a decision has been taken.
Regarding opposition parties' demand for removal of some officers, Quraishi said the Commission would take a view after a thorough examination in Delhi.
"There was a complaint that the election machinery should be neutral," he said adding directives had already been issued to remove officials posted at one place for more than three years.
Quraishi said, during the meetings political parties raised several issues like politicisation of officers.
There was anxiety and worry among political parties on matters relating to black money, movement of cash and liquor, he said.
Political parties voiced concern over use of religious places for hate speeches, the CEC said.
"They also demanded that instead of the state police, central forces should be used," he said.
The parties were assured that their neutral conduct would be ensured, the CEC said.
He said during their visit, reviews with division-level officers were also held and they were told to maintain strict neutrality.
On unaccounted cash, the CEC said that till today Rs 7.5 crore unaccounted money had been seized in the state.
He said the Income Tax department has been deeply involved in checking movement of cash at airport, hotels and through hawala operators.
"For tight watch, 102 expenditure observers and 403 assistant observers, all from IT and revenue services, are being deployed. Besides 403 general observers will also be deployed," Quraishi said.
The CEC said a close watch on production and sale of liquor would be kept.