The Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) criticism of the Election Commission on the ground that the poll panel did not give it the opportunity of a hearing is totally baseless and against the record.
Employees at National Dalit Prerna Sthal cover statues of elephants following Election Commission orders in Noida. PTI
An advocate Ravi Kant had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 2009 against alleged
promotion of the party election symbol by the UP chief minister.
The Election Commission had sought the party's comments on the possible violation of the model code of conduct. Thus, the BSP was already heard on this issue by the Election Commission. On the contrary, the action by the commission (the order for covering statues) is too little and too late.
While rejecting the plea for freezing the BSP symbol, the commission had said that it could take steps to see that statues of Mayawati and elephants did not disturb the level-playing field.
Apparently, the commission had accepted that these statues did disturb the level-playing field, necessitating the present order. Under the circumstances, there was no justification not to freeze the BSP's symbol on account of its propagation by the CM at public expense.
The contention that statues of elephants have their trunk up while in the party symbol it is down is also misleading. Firstly, the notification regarding symbols allotted to various political parties simply says "elephant" and not elephant with its trunk down.
Secondly, the trunk of elephants on pillars is down.
In view of the above, the questions posed by the BSP to the Election Commission are misplaced. The statues of elephants at Rashtrapati Bhawan, North Block and elsewhere were put before allotment of the symbol to the BSP, and certainly not by the ruling party to promote its election symbol. The same applies to the questions in respect of symbols of other political parties. As regards, the schemes in the name of former Prime Ministers, these welfare schemes for the people cannot be equated with propagating self and party symbol at government expense.
In fact, the BSP would not have been able to take advantage of its own wrong if this controversy had been settled earlier.
However, the hearing of Ravi Kant's writ petition was deferred till disposal of related writ petitions pending in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court for recovery of the cost of the land and statues from the BSP and Mayawati. The said writ petitions have remained undecided so far despite Supreme Court's request in February 2010 for their disposal in four months.
So much for respect for the apex court and its observations in the cases of BALCO and Balwant Singh Chaufal that genuine PILs be disposed of on priority.
(The writer is a retired IAS officer).