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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 17:59 UK

Mayawati statues spree challenged

A crane being used to install a new statue of Ms Mayawati in Lucknow
Mayawati unveiled two more statues of herself last week (Pic: Kumar Prithvi)

The politician Mayawati has been accused of wrongly using public cash to make statues of herself and her allies, in a case at India's Supreme Court.

The court gave Mayawati, who is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, four weeks to respond to the petition.

She has dismissed the case as a political conspiracy against her.

The case was brought by a lawyer who accuses her of wasting public money and space to build vast statues in the interests of self-glorification.

In the last week alone she has unveiled 15 new memorials, including two of herself.

'Shameful'

The BBC's Rahul Tandon in Delhi says that since coming to power Mayawati, as she is usually known, has constructed 50 huge figures of herself, her political mentors and of elephants - the symbol of her party.

Mayawati Kumari
Mayawati is chief minister of one of India's most deprived states

Often called the Dalit Queen, she is an icon for India's 160m low-caste Hindus, formerly the "untouchables".

She leads the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has its power base in Uttar Pradesh.

But Mayawati's spending on statues and memorials has come in for sharp criticism.

Uttar Pradesh is one of India's most deprived states, with a high crime rate and poor health services.

One Indian lawyer has filed a case accusing her of wasting millions of dollars in public funds in the construction of these statues.

India's Home Minister P Chidambaram has described the statue-building as "shameful".

Statues of political leaders are generally put up posthumously, but Mayawati has said that belief is outdated.



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