Unfazed by the criticism over its statue-erecting spree, the Mayawati government of Uttar Pradesh has sought the assembly sanction for an additional Rs. 556 crore (Rs 5.56 billion) for the projects, and in contrast sought just Rs.250 crore to deal with the prevailing drought in the state.
Over the years, Rs.5,000 crore have been allocated towards Chief Minister Mayawati's dream projects since the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came to power in May 2007.
On Monday, she raised a fresh demand for Rs.556 crore in the Rs.7,559 crore supplementary budget tabled before the state assembly here.
And a mere Rs.250 crores for fighting the prevailing drought.
Ironically, the state has been after the central government for release of a special economic package to deal with the drought-hit districts that cover almost the entire state.
Leaders of all opposition parties, including Leader of Opposition Shivpal Yadav, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Om Prakash Singh flayed the government for its "obvious indifference and apathy towards the drought."
They were also critical of the chief minister's craving for new aircraft in her fleet. A special Rs.10 crore provision has been made to purchase a helicopter.
Unanimously condemning Mayawati for allocating much more money for memorials and statues than for fighting the prevailing drought, some opposition members even staged a walk-out to mark their protest against the "blatant extravagance".