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ARTICLE 331 NEEDS A RE-LOOK: OPEN LOK SABHA NOMINATIONS TO PARSIS ALSO

by A. Surya Prakash

BSP says Cong spent public money to promote ‘Nehru-Gandhi brand'

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was at its vitriolic best on Thursday as it took a hard-hitting swipe at the Election Commission and Congress in its reply on the issue of installation of statues of party president Mayawati and its election symbol — the elephant. Slamming the EC's double-faced approach in choosing to target BSP for allegedly violating its code of conduct by installing these statues, the BSP reminded the EC that successive Congress Governments have spent huge money promoting the 'Nehru-Gandhi brand'.

'Obviously, the objective is to ensure maximum recall of brand Congress among voters. Has this not given undue advantage to the Congress for many, many years at the cost of public money? Do all the principles of fair play apply to non-Congress parties only?' said party general secretary Satish Mishra.

Mishra was responding on behalf of the BSP to an EC notice on a petition filed by two advocates Sukumar and Ravikant, who claimed that installation of statues had violated the EC notification prohibiting display of images of political functionaries and party symbols in Government offices or public places.

Taking a dig at the Congress, the BSP said, 'The Congress in order to gain unfair advantage over other political parties has named all major programmes, projects and institutions in the country after their leaders belonging to Nehru-Gandhi family — which totally distorts the level-playing field in the electoral arena.

'There were over 450 Central and State Government programmes, projects and institutions named after Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, the reply submitted. Contrasting this with the statues of Mayawati and that of the elephants, it said that the statues of Mayawati have been installed keeping in view the desire of party founder Kanshi Ram who willed that wherever his statues are installed, the statue of Mayawati, his only heir, should be installed alongside.

So far as the elephant symbol was concerned, the party stated the memorial was a 'welcome symbol' and should not be seen as depiction of party symbol. From time immemorial elephant statue was considered as a welcome symbol and so it finds place at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Raj Bhavan, the Akshardham temple at Delhi and even Parliament House at Singapore.

Attaching voluminous literature on the deep attachment elephant has held in the country's history, the BSP found sufficient defence in highlighting that the Congress Government in Uttar Pradesh in 1979 had installed a huge elephant statue in a park in Lucknow, which still exists with the place popularly known as 'Hathi Park'.

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