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Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 13:09 UK

Indian leader in statue warning

A crane being used to install a new statue of Ms Mayawati in Lucknow
Mayawati is accused of self-glorification by her critics

The chief minister of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has warned of violence if statues of her and her mentors are demolished.

Mayawati said opposition parties would be held "responsible" for attempts at destroying the statues.

Last week, India's Supreme Court ordered her government to stop building the statues.

Ms Mayawati, a low-caste Dalit - formerly "untouchable" - is an icon for India's 160 million low-caste Hindus.

She is accused of self-glorification by her critics. But she accuses her opponents of conspiring against her.

Ms Mayawati said the Congress party was "anti Dalits" and that the party had spent a lot of money building memorials in the name of its Nehru-Gandhi leaders.

She accused the Congress and the main opposition Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh (UP) of indulging in "malicious and mischievous propaganda."

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

Ms Mayawati's spending on statues and memorials has been described as "shameful" by India's Home Minister P Chidambaram.

In May she unveiled 15 new memorials, including two of herself.

Statues of political leaders are generally put up posthumously, but Ms Mayawati says that belief is outdated.

The controversial chief minister received a setback on Friday when the Allahabad High Court quashed her efforts to ban a book written by a senior civil servant which she argues contains objectionable references about her and other low caste leaders.

Author Laxmi Kant Shukla says he has been victimised by the state government because of the publication of his work. He says that it has not paid his salary for 18 months.

The court ruled that the UP government's reasons for banning his book did not satisfactorily state why it was in violation of the law.

It said that banning a book "was not a routine act to be executed with unconcern or indifference". It ruled that the state government had not adequately specified which citizens, castes and communities would be offended by it.

The government argued in May that the book would "create ill-will and bitterness within society".



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