Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Monday dismissed criticism against its decision to drape the statues of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati and BSP symbol elephant on public property, calling it "ill-informed".
"I am surprised this (EC order) has been taken as something unusual. There is a model code of conduct which says there should be a level-playing field for all candidates and parties.
"The Code says nobody will get an unfair advantage. Government and public property will not be used for political gain. If portraits have to be removed, it is because it is on public property. Statues are big and they give advantage to the concerned person. The criticism is ill-informed," he told NDTV.
The CEC said there is nothing per se wrong about statues of political personalities and symbols erected out of their own expenditure.
"Only thing is that it is propaganda and public place cannot be used for political propaganda," he said, adding "we have no problem if it is done on private property out of their own expenditure".
Asked about the "huge" cost involved in draping the statues, Quraishi said "cost cannot be the consideration. The principle has to be enforced. Model Code of Conduct does not make a distinction on account of cost".
He said the cost of covering of statues with tarpaulin "is not going to be a big deal".
On Saturday, the Commission directed the UP government to drape the statues of Mayawati and Elephants erected in government memorials in Lucknow and Noida.
Answering a question, Quraishi said, that it was not the concern of the Election Commission whether its orders helped somebody or went against another.
"That should not be our concern. If somebody is benefited or disadvantaged, that is not our concern," he said.
The CEC said that the decision was taken after all opposition parties had made a demand in this connection.
He recalled that even before the 2004 general elections, the portraits of the then prime minister on the hoardings of the Golden Quadrilateral project were covered.
Quraishi said in a quasi-judicial order the Commission had last year decided that suitable action would be taken so that no individual or political party could benefit from the statues erected out of public money.
The order was passed on a case remitted to it by the Supreme Court.